I read an extensive article in National Geographic a few months ago which brought to light how dependent the world is on plastic materials, how cheaply they can be made, and how harmful (especially single-use plastics) they are to our world. Since then, National Geographic has stopped mailing their monthly magazines wrapped in plastic and several restaurants are finding ways to eliminate plastic drinking straws.
Contact lenses are also part of this environmental mess. In a recent online survey of 400 contact lens wearers, 19% said they dispose their lenses in the sink or flush them down the toilet.
So, if there are 45 million people in America who wear contacts, that is a lot of metric tons of plastic flowing through wastewater treatment plants that eventually end up in our rivers and oceans (contacts don’t fully degrade even after passing through treatment facilities). These partially degraded microplastics ultimately end up washing up on beaches or being eaten by marine life.
Scientists recommend that the best way to get rid of your contacts is to simply throw them in the trash.
Death by Eye Drops
This past July, a South Carolina woman was charged with murder after it was discovered that her husband had been poisoned by her. Lana Sue Clayton admitted to adding tetrahydrozoline, which is an ingredient found in over-the-counter “red eye” eye drops and nasal decongestants, to her her husbands water over a 3 day period.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, when ingested, tetrahydrozoline acts as a neurotoxin and can cause blurred vision, seizures, breathing problems, and comas.
As an aside, after doing a Google search, I found this is not the first time tetrahydrozoline has been used to poison someone.
More Eye Drop News
Lumify (Bausch + Lomb) is now available as an over-the-counter eye drop for the relief of red eyes due to minor irritation. For years, people have used Visine (and others) to relieve bloodshot eyes. But long term use of these drops can cause a rebound redness when stopped, in addition to other side effects. Lumify targets specific receptors which minimizes the unwanted side effects. Lumify has been shown to work within 30-60 seconds and lasts 6-8 hours. And most importantly, Lumify does not contain tetrahydrozoline, so it is safe if ingested accidentally or on purpose 🙂
Although I have not yet used this drop myself, I have heard some good things about it from a few people who have. If you try it, I’d like to know what you think.