What Happens If You Get Vape Juice in Your Eye?

February 14, 2024

We’re already hearing about how vaping is linked to lung problems and nicotine addiction, but it may be harming your eye health as well. Whether it’s due to direct exposure or mishandling, getting e-liquid (often called vapor) in your eyes can cause serious damage.

The vapor that is inhaled from electronic cigarette devices or “vapes” contains extracted nicotine in levels that are unregulated, plus other chemicals that can be harmful to the eye. A recent study showed that vapor can irritate the cornea and lead to blurred vision, dry eyes, and increased tears. This can increase the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. It can also contribute to oxidative stress in the eye, which can lead to thinning of the choroid, which provides oxygen to the retina.

Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin, so if someone accidentally gets e-liquid on their face or in their eye it will penetrate the surface and make its way into the bloodstream. If this happens, urgently call 000 or the Poisons Information Centre 13 11 26 and seek medical attention.

A woman in Scotland got a lucky escape with only superficial eye surface damage after she confused antibiotic eye drops for her e-cig liquid and dropped it in her eye. The woman in her 50s flushed her eyes immediately, and doctors credited this quick reaction with limiting the damage that could have occurred. However, the similar-looking bottles and lack of warnings on the e-cig liquid bottle led to her accident, and she should have kept the two products separated.

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