From, there has been a rise in ocular burns (The blink reflex usually causes the eye to close in response to a thermal stimulus. Thus, thermal burns tend to affect the eyelid rather than the conjunctiva or cornea.)

By Katherine Bakes, MD

Dr. Bakes is an associate editor with NEJM Journal Watch Emergency Medicine, from which this story was adapted. Full coverage is available at the link below.

The incidence of ocular burns from laundry detergent pods in preschool-aged children increased 32-fold from 2012 to 2015, according to a research letter in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for 2010 to 2015, researchers estimated that 1201 preschoolers (age 3–4 years) had emergency department visits for ocular burns from laundry detergent pod exposures. Most injuries (85%) occurred at home. The number of injuries increased from 12 in 2012 to 480 in 2015, accounting for 1% and 26%, respectively, of all chemical ocular burns in this age group.

In most cases, injury occurred when children held the pods and the liquid burst out into their eyes or leaked onto their hands, which then touched their eyes.

Comment: The authors correctly call for better strategies to reduce accidental pediatric injuries: proper storage in the home, redesign of packaging to reduce the attractiveness to young children, and improved strength and durability of pods.