Eye Irrigation Made Easy

Here’s a little trick I learned back in the day about irrigating someone’s eyes. I was taught this by my preceptor when I starting out as an EMT basic and I still use the technique to this day. It’s a lot easier and more effective than pouring saline straight out of the bottle. Hopefully you will find this useful!

IMG Source: hooksigns.com
IMG Source: hooksigns.com

The Supplies:

You will need a few items to do this skill effectively. They include:

  • Saline bag – preferably 1,000ml.
  • 10gtt IV tubing (60gtt could work but would take much longer).
  • Adult nasal cannula.

The Setup:

Attach your IV tubing the saline bag and flush the line. Then cut off a portion of the nasal cannula hose above the connector. The end of the cut-off oxygen tubing should fit right over the IV connector on the 10gtt line. Now place the cannula over the patient’s head with the prongs over the bridge of the nose, facing directly into the eyes. Now open the IV line slowly and instruct the patient to constantly blink while the fluid flushes their eyes.

-TIP: Try cutting the oxygen tubing as close to the split as possible to cut back on the overall length of the tubing. This will help prevent snags and knots.

The diagram below not only shows the setup, but also makes it clear why I didn’t chose a career path in art.

And that’s it! You now are effectively irrigating the patient’s eyes and you have your hands free to do other aspects of patient care. If you have tried this or have any other tips or tricks, please feel free to e-mail me or comment below.


Please, always follow your local protocols. Make sure that you know what chemical or substance is in the eyes and that flushing the eyes is the appropriate action to take. When it doubt, contact medical control.


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