Rise in detergent eye injuries

An increase in the number of toddlers sustaining chemical burns from laundry detergent pods has been revealed in a new study


A 30-fold increase in ocular chemical burns from laundry detergent pods has prompted calls for closer scrutiny of the household products.

Researchers at the John Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Prevention in Baltimore found that the number of eye injuries related to laundry detergent pods among young children in the United States skyrocketed between 2012 - 2015.

Over the period, there were 1201 ocular chemical burns caused by laundry detergent pods among three and four-year-olds.

The number of eye injuries caused by the pods increased from 12 in 2012, to 480 in 2015.

The pods contain concentrated alkaline detergents, with the potential to penetrate deep into the cornea and ocular tissues and cause significant damage.

Study author, Dr Richard Sterling Haring, told OT that many of the injuries occurred when children were handling the pods and the contents squirted into one or both of their eyes.

Children were also injured when the pod contents leaked onto their hands and a burn resulted from subsequent hand-eye contact, Dr Haring added.

“In addition to proper storage and use of these devices, prevention strategies might include re-designing packaging to reduce the attractiveness of these products to young children and improving their strength and durability,” he highlighted.

Dr Haring explained that, while he did not have any data on injury levels related to laundry detergent pods in the UK, he would expect numbers to be similar depending on market penetration.

“Over the past few years, they have become quite common in American households, which I believe has been the major contributor to the upward trend of associated injuries.”

He emphasised that eye health professionals should be aware of the risk posed by laundry detergent pods.

“Toddlers are the highest-risk group for chemical ocular burns and laundry detergent pods represent an especially notable threat,” he added