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E-Liquid Now a Health Hazard for the Eyes, Ophthalmologists Warn

Dripping e-cigarette liquid in your eyes is apparently a bad idea, at least according to the conclusion of a case report recently published in the JAMA Ophthalmology journal.

drippingThe authors, a team of eye doctors from Scotland, recounted the case of an unnamed woman who dripped e-liquid, instead of eye-drops, in her eyes, by mistake. She claimed that the bottles looked very similar at a glance, and since they were stored next to each other in her bathroom cupboard, she just grabbed the e-juice bottle, thinking it was the antibiotic drops container prescribed for bacterial conjunctivitis, or pinkeye.

After dripping e-liquid in her eyes, the woman immediately experienced pain, redness and blurred vision. She cleaned her eyes with cold water, but also went to emergency eye services, where tests revealed that, even though her cornea was stained, there was no damage to the delicate epithelial cells of the eye. E-liquid has a pH of 6, which makes it more acidic than tears (ph7.0 – 7.3), but her eye pH was a normal 7.0, which the doctors credited to her having rinsed her eye immediately. In the end, she only sustained superficial ocular surface damage, which was soon repaired with the help of specific treatment.

“Our patient had a good outcome from this unfortunate incident, with no long term damage to her ocular surface or vision, because she immediately washed out her eye as soon as she realized her mistake, and so limited the potential damage,” coauthor David Lockington of Gartnavel General Hospital told Reuters.

“There is no warning information on the side of these e-cig liquid bottles or in the product information regarding the potential danger of a chemical injury to the eyes, or the emergency treatment,” Lockington added. “This is an oversight which should be addressed by the industry.”

“This is a disturbing report, and it is fortunate that it happened in a bathroom where she had access to running water,” said biochemist Irina Stepanov of Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, who was not involved in the case report.

Apparently, even though this was the first ever reported case of eye injury caused by accidental e-liquid dripping, and the ocular damage was minimal, eye doctors seem to think it is a legitimate cause of concern. Yes, seriously.

First there were reports of children ingesting e-liquid, due to parents’ inability to store their juice out of their kids’ reach, then there were alarming warning of pets being put at risk for the same reason, and now we have one documented case of someone mistaking e-liquid for eye drops, and Big Media is already all over it. Mark my words, soon we’ll have medical professionals reporting that even thinking about e-cigarettes or e-liquid is a big health risk.

This is just another case of baseless scaremongering, and you would have to be blind (pun intended) not to see it. First of all, who keeps their liquid next to their eye drops, in the medicine cabinet? Well, apparently one woman out of millions of vapers around the world did, and her mistake is now being used as an attack on vaping. I am all for putting warnings about potential injury to the eyes on e-liquid bottles if that will stop this kind of accidents from happening, but let’s be realistic, that wouldn’t have prevented this woman from storing her juice next to her eye drops. It’s not like she though dripping e-liquid in her eyes would be harmless when she chose to store it next to her eye drops.

This is nothing more than a case of extreme recklessness, just like the vast majority of reported e-cigarette explosions, and it is once again used to slander vaping and mislead the general public. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about it, except educate people to be more careful.

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