WARNING: Eye Drops Deadly In Children
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Something so simple used to get rid of red, tired eyes is pretty innocent right? Wrong. Did you know that if your toddler gets their hands on and ingests eye drops like Visine, they could have deadly consequences?
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When someone ingests Visine, it immediately begins to affect their blood vessels. In an adult, it can cause nausea and vomiting. But in a child or a toddler that is less than 50 lbs, it basically stops the blood from flowing through their veins and can lead to a coma and eventually death.
Some eye drops contain only sterile saline solution, which is not harmful if ingested. However, other eye drops can be hazardous if they are consumed. Ingesting eye drops that contain tetrahydrozoline can potentially be fatal, particularly to small children. “The active ingredient in Visine eye drops is Tetrahydrozoline HCl 0.05%. Swallowing this substance can result in a number of nasty effects, including:
- Lowering body temperature to dangerous levels
- Making breathing difficult, or even halting it entirely
- Blurring vision
- Causing nausea and vomiting
- Elevating and then dropping blood pressure
- Causing seizures or tremors
- Sending the ingester into a coma
Pfizer’s caution to users of Visine include, ‘If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.’ In light of the above list, that advice should not be taken lightly.
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Tetrahydrozoline belongs to a family of compounds known for their ability to induce chemical reactions that either relax or constrict blood vessels. The former tend to end up in medications used to reduce blood pressure. The latter, which includes tetrahydrozoline, often go into nasal sprays or in eye drop formulas that are designed to “get the red out.”
This is not, by the way, a simple blood vessel squeeze. It derives from the way these compounds bind to receptors in the sympathetic nervous system, altering signals to the vascular system, triggering the change. It’s this action on the nervous system which puts tetrahydrozoline in the “neurotoxic” category on the Material Safety Data Sheet required of all manufactured chemical compounds.
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