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Prevent Blindness America

April 1, 2002


Schaumburg, IL - Careless use of eye makeup and hair dye can cause eye damage and even loss of sight. The U.S. Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 261,000 product-related eye injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2000. Hair dye, a commonplace product used at home by thousands of women, can cause serious eye damage and blindness if used incorrectly. Warnings against the potential lethalness of these products are stated boldly and clearly on the packages, but not all consumers heed these warnings," said Daniel D. Garrett, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) spokesperson. Last year alone, there were more than 4,000 eye injuries caused by hair products.

"Cosmetics, while not as dangerous as hair dyes, can also lead to eye injuries and irritations, but simple precautions can eliminate virtually 100 percent of these types of eye injuries," added Garrett. PBA is offering the following tips for using eye cosmetics safely:

  • Wash your hands before applying cosmetics. Some bacteria can be transferred from your hands to your eyes.
  • Disposable applicators are the best to use, but keep all applicators clean and in good condition. Do not reuse old applicators.
  • Cosmetics should be kept away from excessive heat and cold that could break down the preservatives, allowing bacteria to grow. Do not carry mascara in your purse or leave makeup in your car.
  • Avoid "natural" and "preservative-free" products. Bacteria may thrive in these products.
  • Moisture promotes the growth of bacteria so do not moisten cosmetics with water or saliva.
  • Do not share your makeup with others or use someone else's makeup.
  • Do not switch mascara brushes from one vial to another.
  • Never apply makeup while driving or riding in a moving vehicle.
  • To reduce the chance of allergic reaction, use cosmetics labeled "fragrance-free," "hypo-allergenic" or "for sensitive skin."
  • Always remove makeup every night. Never sleep with eye makeup on.
  • Read Labels, learn about the chemicals you are using and avoid these chemical ingredients

Contact lens wearers must take extra precautions when applying and removing eye cosmetics. Improper use of cosmetics could lead to lens deposits, scratches, eye irritations, allergies, dryness, injuries and infections.

Aside from cosmetics, women should be aware of the potential hazards associated with common household products they use everyday. Every year, thousands of eye injuries are caused by general purpose cleaning products, bathroom products, bleaches, detergents, oven cleaners, and drain cleaners.

If you do splash your eye, there are steps you should take immediately to avoid incurring permanent eye damage. For chemical splashes, the eye should be immediately flushed for at least 15 minutes to dilute or remove the chemical. If water is not available, use any drinkable liquids on hand such as milk, juice, or any soft drink. Open the eye as wide as possible during flushing. If you wear contact lenses, do not remove them - flush over the lens immediately.

Seek medical treatment immediately after flushing. When you call the doctor or go to the emergency room, make sure you have the chemical container handy so that you can report on exactly what chemical was involved.

Click here to download the pdf version of this press release.

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Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, community and patient service programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public. Together with a network of affiliates, divisions and chapters, it's committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America. To order the free fact sheet, Careful Use of Eye Cosmetics, or for more information on women's eye health and safety, visit us on the web at www.preventblindness.org.

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