Pollution and Onions Stinging Eyes

Dr. Kisling Eye Symptoms, Stinging Eyes Leave a Comment

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.

Concentrated sulfuric acid, by virtue of its great affinity and
strong exothermic reaction with water, will effectively remove the
elements of water from many organic materials with which it comes in
contact, thus it can burn and char the skin. [9] It is even more
rapidly injurious to the mucous membranes, and exceedingly dangerous
to the eyes. Dilute sulfuric acid, while it does not possess this


charring property, irritates the skin and mucous membranes by virtue of
its acidity and can cause dermatitis. [10]

Splash injuries to the eyes are in practice the most serious
adverse health effect of sulfuric acid in industry, because contact
with concentrated acid of any magnitude is capable of causing
irreparable corneal damage resulting in blindness. [5] At the same
time, acid burns of the eyelids and surrounding parts of the face will
produce cicatrization with disfigurement. [14]

As liquid sulfuric acid becomes progressively more dilute with water,
the intensity of its dehydration/charring action gradually diminishes and
it then behaves as a strong mineral acid by vi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *