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Science & Technology

S.A. Doctors Seeing More Children For Laundry Detergent Pod Eye Burns

American Association of Poison Control Centers


San Antonio doctors are noticing an increase of eye injuries in small children after they come into contact with laundry detergent pods.

Physicians at University Hospital are concerned that they haven’t yet seen the worst of the injuries.

Liquid detergent held inside colorful, squishy plastic packets are sometimes irresistible for kids.

Dr. Jorge Montes, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the UT Health Science Center, said the Emergency Room has seen a string of children since this summer, all under the age of five, with serious burns on the eye.

"And all of them have been some form of pod - laundry detergent pods - that have been bitten or squeezed so that the detergent enters the eye," he said. 

Credit University Health System
Dr. Jorge Montes' testing of some of the detergent pods found them to be more dangerous than acid

Montes said they’ve tested the product and found that the pH level is higher and more dangerous than acid.

"We even bought some and tested these pods, and they come out basic. You can either have an acidic or basic burn to the eye, and basic burns are way more complicated and have longer-term significant outcomes the more basic the solution is," Montes said. 

Montes said the chemical burn caused by the detergent can mean long-term or permanent eye problems, including pain, a swollen or discolored cornea, elevated eye pressure and glaucoma, and scarring on the eye and inside the eyelid that would require surgery to correct.  He says pain can last a week or more, and the eye can take months to heal or suffer permanent damage.