What do pollution and onions have in common? They both can make you cry!
- Probably sulfuric acid is the culprit. When an onion is cut the alliin compounds are released and converted into alliinase enzymes that result in a form of sulfur compounds to be released in vapor forms. When theses interact with the water on the mucous membranes irritation results. In higher concentrations sulfuric acid is a very strong binder of water, actually pulling it out of cells and creating damaging heat in the process. In the lower ranges that occur from cutting onions the acid shift is probably more significant. The water attraction function may accelerate the breakup of the tear fil also which is a painful process.
Cutting onions underwater is often suggested as a method to avoid the eye pain. If you can acquire this skill it probably would work but it also sounds like a method to inflict different types of pain involving sharp objects and fingers. Other than goggles, which still allow the sulfuric acid of form in the sinuses, a light fan breeze good be helpful in directing the vapors away from your face.
Normal tear functions includes a complex interaction of a water component, mucous, and oily compounds. Blinking serves to resurface the tear film like a wiper blade spreading out a new smooth surface. It also pumps the tears though the drainage system of tear ducts and washes away debree and other toxins, allowing new tears to refresh the immune and nutritional components of the tear film. Irritants like onion vapors interfere with the stabilization of the tear film between blinking. The underlying corneal tissue has the most sensitive nerve structure in the body, and this disruption can be temporarily excruciating. Of course, rubbing your eyes after cutting jalapenos is more enlivening experience not quickly forgotten.
If you have splashed an irritant in your eye call Fort Collins Eye Doctors-Dr Kisling 9780-226-0959 immediately and tell the receptionist the problem so we can schedule you for a same day appointment. Usually your vision insurance plan services or medical plan will cover your office visit.