Eye Errors with Iris Botcher #3

Eye Errors with Iris Botcher #3

By Janelle Harris

Iris Botcher here - welcome to the third installment of Eye Errors. By now, you may have heard our little motto, "Some people exist to serve as a warning to others." Unfortunately - and despite my best efforts - this remains just as true as ever.

You see, my task is to guide you down the path of correct eye care, by showing you exactly the sort of things you shouldn't be doing. Certain... misinformed individuals have made a few unwise choices with their eyes over the years, and they write in to learn just where they went wrong.

Of course, I do my best to maintain my pleasant demeanor, but with some submissions, I'm much closer to slapping them on the nose with a newspaper, sternly saying, "Bad reader! No!"

As always, of course, if you have your own Eye Error, feel free to get in touch and tell me your story. I promise I'll be nice.

Dear Iris,

Hi, Iris, big fan of what you're doing here, so I thought I'd write in and ask for advice. I've been making the same eye error for years now, and I'm not sure how I can get around it.

You see, I'm a sous chef, so of course I work with a variety of foods. I know the basic rules of keeping your eyes safe from onions and the like, but I am consistently confounded by the jalapeño pepper.

No matter how carefully I chop them up, or how thoroughly I wash my hands afterwards, it seems like some pepper residue hangs around long enough to get in my eyes and sting.

So, I guess my question is, if washing doesn't help, what will?

Gourmet in Dismay

Dear G.I.D.,

Ouch! Yes, this certainly does seem like an error that needs fixing. Capsaicin, the ingredient in chili peppers that makes them taste "hot," is the same compound used in pepper spray. Lesson being, unless you're a mugger, that sort of thing doesn't belong anywhere near your eyes.

Problem is, because capsaicin is an oil, it can be terribly difficult to clean off your hands. Water alone does practically nothing, and even soap won't always get everything.

Ideally, the safest method for handing hot peppers is to wear a set of rubber gloves (Not latex - the capsaicin can seep through!) and toss them away when you're done.

However, if gloves aren't available, or if you've already got capsaicin on your hands, there are a few simple techniques to help clean them more thoroughly:

- Capsaicin is far more soluble in oil than water - if you scrub your hands in vegetable oil, followed by an oil-cutting dish detergent, you should remove the majority of the capsaicin. Make sure to use a small brush to clean your fingertips, as the capsaicin can get underneath your nails.

- Rub salt thoroughly into your hands, then soak them in milk for a few minutes. The salt scrapes away a majority of the capsaicin, and the milk acts like a detergent, allowing the remaining oil to detach from your skin and wash away.

- Vigorously cleaning your hands using aloe vera (in a lotion, or directly from the plant, if you'd like) may help remove the oil and soothe any burning it might cause.

If worse comes to worse, and you get capsaicin in your eyes, there isn't a whole lot you can do, I'm afraid. The best course of action is to keep flushing out your eyes with clean water, and wait for the burning to pass. If it's especially severe, you may want to head to the emergency room.

Really, though, the best thing to do is prevent all this before it happens. Invest in some gloves!


Dear Iris,

I know I'm gonna get some flak for this one, but I probably deserve it. In my younger days, when I was trying to make my way through college on a meager budget, I cut a few more corners than I should have. I wore contacts - to impress the ladies, of course - but didn't really see the point of buying contact solution when it was "basically just salt water."

Long story short, I tried making my own contact solution for a while, to completely disastrous results. Let's just say that the ladies were not impressed when my eyes were all red and gross, because of my cruddy fake lens solution.

Obviously I learned my lesson, but just in case, I figured I'd let you put me in my place.

Dirty Deeds Done Cheap

Dear Deeds,

I was originally working on a fun little witticism for you, about how you can't spell "miserable" without "miser," but then common sense struck, and I realized I should be YELLING AT YOU for how bloody ridiculous that was.

We all make mistakes, I know, but when you deliberately set out on a path like this, it really makes me worry about the future of our species. You put your health and your vision on the line to save a few dollars on contact lens solution? What would you do for a free hamburger? Forget it - I don't even want to know.

And no, I'm afraid contact lens solution isn't "just salt water." A multi-purpose disinfecting solution like OPTI-FREE® RepleniSH® is highly sterilized and carefully formulated so that you can store, disinfect and wear your contacts in an ideal environment.

When you throw a solution together from whatever junk you have lying around your house (or god forbid, your dorm room), you run the risk of outside entities entering your eyes - bacteria, dirt, strange chemicals, anything. This can lead to infection, and infection can lead to discomfort, ocular damage, even blindness. Think of how often you use your eyes, all the wonderful things there are to see. Is a few dollars worth risking that gift?

Now, Deeds, I don't mean to pick on you. It sounds like you learned your lesson. What worries me, though, is how many other people may be making the same mistake. I'd hoped this was an isolated incident, but a quick internet search revealed that many other people are threatening their vision with homemade solution. So, I suppose I'm using this as my soapbox to spread the word:

People, making your own lens solution is a recipe for disaster. KNOCK IT OFF. If you can't afford to take care of your lenses properly, then you shouldn't be wearing contacts. I'm including a link to a coupon for OPTI-FREE® RepleniSH® contact lens solution in this article. Use it. And please, treat your eyes responsibly.


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OPTI® eSTORIES is a place for eyes, of course - a forum for sharing tips and stories, for offering new vision and perspective, for discussing lifestyle and image, all through the window of our eyes. More than that, though, OPTI® is about celebrating the beauty within all of us, and the way our eyes can be just as unique as we are. Fun and feisty, elegant and soulful. It's all here. It's all OPTI®.

If you have any questions or comments about our articles - or a suggestion for future articles - we'd love to hear from you.