People Are 'Frequently' Mistaking Superglue For Eye Drops And Oh No

Image: BMJ

The British Medical Journal recently reported on what can only be described as a real life horror story.

And it starts with these two bottles.

On the right - eye drops. Perfect for the treatment of dry, itchy eyes.

On the left - superglue, specifically for nails. Something you definitely don't want anywhere near your eye.

You can see where we are going here, right?

The most recent case of mistaken identity came from a 64 year old man who realised he'd mixed up the eye drops and nail glue when he started experiencing "significant pain" along with blurred vision.

In this instance the man was lucky - the nail glue only caused mild damage to his eye, but doctors are saying cases of "complete eye death" will only keep happening until either the eye drops or the nail glue change their packaging.

You read that right - complete eye death.

The report details cases of inadvertent ocular cyanoacrylate, or "superglue instillation" going back to 1982 when the glue was repackaged into "ophthalmic style" dropper bottles.

The report calls cyanoacrylate an "ongoing problem", and points out a lack of safety caps on the glue packaging "has resulted in significant ocular morbidity over the last 27 years".


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    Good to see that the shallow end of the gene pool is active.

      Maybe if you are reaching for the eye drops, you are having trouble seeing. Maybe if you have trouble seeing, you might reach for the wrong bottle. Maybe you belong in "the shallow end of the gene pool" (whatever that means) if you can't "see" that. Don't pick the wrong bottle ok?

        It has nothing to do with the current state of the users eyesight...
        It is however about the shallow gene pool lacking the foresight not to place the bottles next to each other or even in the near vicinity of each other.
        Keep the eye drops in the fridge or in a medicine designated cabinet/container.
        Keep the super glue in the crafts cupboard or in the garage.

        How in the world you can manage to screw this up is beyond me.

        If your eyesight is that bad, perhaps using your other senses first? Like say, sniff the bottle before pouring it in your eye?

          Smell is another one of the senses that can kinda fade with age. I definately in my 40s have far worse ability to smell than when I was half this age.

        Eye Drops and Glue should be in different cupboards, full stop.

        If a person is that stupid, they don't deserve medical attention.

      Please don't be so dismissive and make such empathically stunted comments on such a health issue. Eye drops are frequently prescribed to people with various kinds of vision impairments. A disability which makes you prone to mistaking visually similar items doesn't make you any less intelligent or strong in other areas. That's just the nature of a disability. The man mentioned in this article is old, in his 60s - you think he bought that nail glue himself? What reason would a 60 year old man have for manicure items - he might not even have known what it was, likely it was from a family member living with him for the sake of being his caretaker. Tragic mistakes made by vulnerable people indicate zip all about genes.

        It's not a health issue when the problem goes beyond one case of an old man who can't see properly. When so many people are reported to make mistakes in regards to telling the difference between nail glue and eye drops!

        Who do you really think I am identifying as the stupid one(s) here?

      As @guestwhowould said, super glue is best kept at low temps, and I actually do keep mine in the fridge, not far from eye (blazeaway) drops, I've only got it wrong once, but, then again, I've always been a fan of the "Pirate" patch ...arhh me maties ;)
      I suppose the real question this poses, is it possible to counter act every possible outcome from an action, and at what point does society need to be responsible for those actions? Sure, we can change the bottle shape etc. But the possibilities of me making poor choices in other decisions regarding my well-being, without any pre judgemental thought (like the above example) are astronomically high.
      At what point is a member of society responsible for their actions? ...I don't know the answer by the way, but I'm inclined to side with Capt on this particular example.

        On the one hand sure, people messed up, people lose their eyes.
        On the other hand, if the super glue companies went, 'hey folks are losing their eyes, maybe we could do them a solid and change to a red bottle', then that could be a positive change.

          For sure, but then when it's red what will people then confuse it for? Tabasco sauce ;) Its such an obscure "problem", sure we can counter act the "obvious" ones, wear a crash helmet etc, but the only real solution to this example is to "check" first, no matter what changes I make, entropy will always win here.

          Does super glue not smell significantly different than eye drops?

      The shallow end of the gene pool is somewhere between the doctors and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia) in not mandating a requirement for such containers to be significantly different.
      It's wrong to be blaming a person for not identifying the right bottle by sight when a lack of sight is 100% the reason they are reaching for the eye drop bottle in the first place.

      Yeah. Actively making ill-informed, shallow and judgmental comments on Internet articles.

      Yeah. Actively making ill-informed, shallow and judgmental comments on Internet articles.

    My very elderly parents did. I never thought that would happen to anyone else. My mum had Alzheimers and poor eyesight, my dad needed eyedrops and bingo. That episode was nowhere near the worst! Screw getting old - but most of the time its better than the alternative ;0)

    I like the fact betadine eye drops are in the same shape but only slightly different colour bottle than betadine anti septic.

    The percentage level of stupid human beings on this planet increases steadily every year. A well-organised human being keeps their nail glue in the same place as the nail paint, make-up powder, eye-liner and lipstick, none of which improves their appearance, but it's good for throwing good money away to make the manufactureres wealthy.

    I'm damn sure my super-glue container looks nothing like an eye dropper. Its made of metal and has a long tube nozzel, not a dropper. Must just be the nail glue.

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