Michael J Kutryb, MD  

Specialties: Ophthalmology, Cataract Surgery, glaucoma

Interests: Ophthalmology
Kutryb Eye Institute - Titusville
Titusville, FL
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Beware of Super Glue "Drops" in the Eye

Oct 24, 2010 - 27 comments

Yes, it sounds crazy, and repulsive but it really happens.  Super glue, that nasty, but useful agent found in he supermarket checkout aisle, has a dark side too.  Being a firm believer in Murphy's Law, I completely understand how super glue would find its way into the eyes of unsupsecting people.  It's quite simple, if you think about it.  There are many manufacturers of super glue type products and some of the containers are about the same size and shape as a bottle of eye drops.  Often, people who need eye drops may have bad vision and would have to take their glasses off to put in the eyedrops.  They reach into the kitchen junk drawer and grab the wrong little bottle and a very bad day begins.

I have personally seen 4 such cases of super glue products in the eye and I'm sorry to admit one was an aunt (yes, it runs in my DNA.)  Yesterday, I was called about a grandmother who accidentally put super glue "drops" in both eyes of a 1 month old infant.  You can stop cringing now.  The baby was taken to a childrens eye clinic and should be fine.

The good news is that, almost always, a full recovery can be made in less than a week.  Lots of lubricating ointment is placed on the eye and eyelids and lashes and the hardened glue can carefully be removed over the next few days.  The glue itself is not terribly toxic to the tissues but rather it becomes hardened, glues the eyelids and lashes together and can scratch the cornea and conjuctiva if not removed within a few days.

Now that I have you thinking, remember that other similar products can inadvertantly be dropped in the eye by accicdent.  One of my well known patients put fresh breath drops in her eye last week, and she recovered completely. Other culprits include ear drops and fingernail antifungal drops.

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by Dalubaba, Oct 29, 2010
Yes, almost all would have one incident of instilling wrong drops in their eye.Recently I read somewhere that you should draw the eye pouch down and put one drop and keep eye closed , keeping inner corner of the eye sealed with the tip of the finger. This will stop the drug spilled out through the tear duct. This was probably written about topicamide drops. However, i have not seen anybody keeping eyse close for three minutes or blocking their tear duct.
Two patients of conjectivites from the same family. should be prescribed separate brand so that they do not mix up their drops causing more infection.
After cataract -operation, lots of cautions are given, I wonder whether all are followed correctly.

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by margypops, Oct 29, 2010
I almost put ear drops in my eyes a couple of weeks ago, I have wax in my ear and got the drops to help rid me off it, they are very similar to eye drop containers,and when you wake with stinging eyes at 5am  you are not exactly looking, what I have done now is put them in differant parts of the bathroom.It was sheer luck that I did painfully peer at the bottle first .

Avatar universal
by owusua, Nov 10, 2010
I experienced this some nineteen years ago when i was 15 years old. i was pasting alphabets on the wall for my kid sister when the pressed super glue droped right into my left eye fron the top of the wall. thankfully after medical examination all i had to endure was a big plaster that stayed on my eye for 5 days and have had my sight back with no setback.

Avatar universal
by MZLAUREL, Nov 10, 2010
I worked as an Ophthalmic tech, Retinal Angiographer, and Surgical Tech  for 15 years.
I have seen the Superglue mistake happen with an employee of the office I worked at (she was a contact lens wearer), and several other patients. All of them recovered from the incident.
When I worked as a machine operator, we used Eastman 9-10 cement, which then became Crazy Glue on the general market. We had to know the properties of the material, as the parts were used to make airplane engines.
This glue does not solidify until it is squeezed, or wiped THIN. It is the thinness that makes it harden. So if it is still in a droplet, it WILL BE LIQUID. Example: put a drop on your finger... it will stay liquid until you press your other finger to it... Then it "freezes".
Knowing this can be helpful. A tissue will wick it up, or a dull edge will "lift" it (like a butter knife) if it not spread thin.

Avatar universal
by MZLAUREL, Nov 10, 2010
Putting pressure on the tiny tear drainage hole, prevents the drop from going into your nose. Some drops taste bad, and when they drain through the nose into the back of the throat, the patient picks up the nasty taste.
Some drops can have an effect on the patient systemically, and pressure on the punctum will reduce that. Sometimes they want the drug to spend extra time in contact with the eye.
I am not sure if superglue is liquidy enough to enter the drainage system of the eye.

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by dchamberss, Nov 10, 2010

Thanks for your comments.  It is not the "thinness" of the glue that controls its curing, but, rather, exposure to moisture.  When it is in a drop, there is very little surface area vs. volume.  When spread thin, the surface area is dramatically increased and moisture in the air is sufficient to begin the oxidation (radical polymerization) of the glue.  The more water, the faster the glue will cure.

Kind Regards,

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by mickyeggs, Nov 10, 2010
once i put eardrops on my big toe, thinking it was the drops for ingrown toe nails. i had a side effect which turned out to be a good thing. everytime i took my socks off i could hear the tv better

Avatar universal
by zormsk, Nov 10, 2010
My mother had a cornea transplant and was required to add eye drops daily (maybe more often). You guessed it. She grabbed a super glue bottle by accident. The glue sealed her eye shut with the newly transplanted cornea inside. As you might guess, she was hysterical, thinking she had blinded herself. Her eye doctor managed to somehow break up the glue and spent a lot of time picking and washing the glue shards out.

Long story short? She recovered fully and the transplant held.

It does make you wonder why eye drop manufacturers don't make their bottles dramatically different from the commonplace bottles. Maybe square instead of cylindrical so a user would know by feel it's the right one. Too logical I guess.

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by suyung57, Nov 10, 2010
mickyeggs your reply made me laugh thanks!

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by donnie36, Nov 11, 2010
Yes, I caution everyone, because as unlikely as it seems, it happens!  I was a new contact lens wearer, and mistook nail glue for eye drops!  The doctor said, the contacts in my eye, which cracked, saved the day.  I spent  hrs in the ER, before I could be seen by the opthomologist, so I did have a corneal abrasian.  They cut my eye lashes off in order to get the eye open.  I've since had three corneal abrasions in only that eye, and a condition called "diffuse lamellar keratitis (DLK)". It could be nothing to do with my super glue incident, and only related to the fact I've had lasik in both eyes, though it seems coincedental it is the "super glue" eye!  Yikes!!

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by Robara, Nov 13, 2010
Yes, mickyeggs.  You made me LOL.

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by collball, Nov 14, 2010
It happened to me.  The super glue bottle was identical to a bottle of eye drops that I used for allergy relief.  My roommate's boyfriend the superglue over to our apartment and left it uncapped on the coffee table.  I spent 8 hours in the ER until they finally got my eye open again.  They put me on a lot of pain medication.  The most painful part was having them pluck at my eyes with tweezers every 15 minutes.  I lost most of my eyelashes and couldn't see normal for a week.  Luckily, there was no permanent damage as the drop made contact with my eye below the pupil.  My ophthalmologist said I'm lucky I'm not a "good shot" or else my eyesight would be damaged.  Moral of the story, always read the label.  And super glue companies should put their product in bottles that are easier to identify and aren't so similar to eye drops.

Avatar universal
by sandra_, Jun 18, 2011
it just happend to me 8 o clock this morning its 707 pm i was watching tv in the dark and ive been putting eyedrops in my eyes the past week cus i read it helps keep your eye bright . anyway and i always have the drops next to me but when i reached for the bottle i grabbed the super glue. right away it burned. and i knew i must of pu glue. i quickly washed it out and called poision control this is what they told me to do.to keep flushing my eye. but i told them i was using a shower head .and they said to not let it hit my face directly . to let it hit the side of my face and go into my eye or on my forehead and let it run down my face. to do that for 30 minutes then after that keep it closed for thirty minutes and if i still cant see after to go to the er. well i still was seeing blurry so i went to er. they put numbbing medicine in my eye and a lubricant to take off the glue and some medicine called gantamicin sulfate 0.3 percent ointment. it feels better but every time i dbend down it hurts i think thats an infection. which they said if happens is a bad thing and to go back in... hope people are more careful... ill be for now on

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by Michael J Kutryb, MDBlank, Jun 20, 2011
Even a real prince can make the simple super glue mistake.  See the following post from CBS News.

Avatar universal
by dicarva, Aug 19, 2011
Just happened tome... Friend was putting  christmas lights on the ceiling w super glue and i happen to be passing by.....  I felt like i had something on my eye... I started rinsing my eye w water nonstop.  For approx 20 min.. i could see fine but i still felt like i had something on my eye... Only use water nothing else... Check w doctor he will check my eye today.. will let u guys know..  i think i have an infection... But thats the way the eye protects itself. Hopefully ill be ok soon...  Ooo i did got a headache from all the stress.

Avatar universal
by kanditwo, Nov 29, 2011
I was trying to superglue shoerack post that kep falling out, the krazyglue bottle wouldn't squeeze anymore, I thought it was empty, so I took small  noozle  off and pushed hard at top, it explode(blocked by a bubble or some dried glue) it flew 3 feet  into my eyes. I had reddeness 8 hours, and today reddnes is gone, just eyes keep running fluids and feel scratchy,  going to see my eye dr. The burry vision I have may be slight tears n need the gantamicin you talked about. Moral of story , never take small cap top of super glue and never assume it's empty.

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by BlackEyedFetus, Nov 30, 2012
I'm glad im not alone. Ive put hair ointment in both eyes, it took me a while to figure out, why my tears were oily. Then i tried, the next 5 minutes to brush my teeth, i mistook the container and used anti-fungal cream.

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by tlboyd8761, Dec 21, 2012
my 3 year old did this last night spent hours in the er and they couldn't get her eye open sent us home with ointment and told us to follow up with an eye doctor to see if there is any damage but the eyeball underneath is moving and she is producing tears so it shouldn't be too dangerous for permanent damage i just wish her eye would open up tho! if anyone has any tips to open it up faster id appreciate it i hate seeing her in pain and frustrated from not being able to open her eye :-(

Avatar universal
by zepouch21, Jan 07, 2013
i feel your pain tboy it so happens to my 8 yhears old brother and he feels yesterday vomitting and body pain and now pain in his forehead and both eyes and when he wakes up he sees white and black wat to do?

Avatar universal
by unbobb, Oct 02, 2013
I was in an emergency room late one night when a woman came in. She had put superglue on her contact lens, because it kept sliding about. They were able to help her, fortunately. They refused, however, to return the superglue to her (she had brought it with her, so they could check for the antidote). She became quite angry about this, but they didn't trust giving it back to her.

Avatar universal
by 2008mum, Dec 29, 2013
This happend to my 5 year old his eyelashes are glued shut any ideas how i can have him open it faster? Im using an oil i got ar the ER n patrollyum jelly. Some of his eye lashes r falling dwn :"(

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by bren28bjs, Feb 01, 2014
I have a clear bubble on my eye.  My doctor drained it twice.  She gave me steroid eye drops [email protected] to put in.  She said if this doesn't work one of my options would be glue or a stich in my eye. What do you think about the glue idea? Have you ever heard of this?

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by slmorgab85, Mar 17, 2014
in canada we are lucky, our superglue comes in tubes inside childproof bottles making it harder to mistake for something elese

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by JD1963, Apr 15, 2014
Thanks Dr. Kutryb, I have often wondered about this! The outcome is better than I imagined.

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by 251191, Apr 13, 2015
two days ago it was the first time of me trying false eyeleshes, i accidently droped the false eyelashes glue into my eye, at that moment i cleaned it with a clean wipe cause i was going to a wedding so i could not wash my eye, but the next day i felt the pain in my eye, a pharmacie told me to clean them with salted serum, but nothing changed tomorrow i am visiting the doctor i am so scared

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by WILLIAMP_MD, May 06, 2015

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by mateo26, Jul 01, 2017
even writing this makes me feel horrible I have mistaken nail glue with eye drops I was supposed to put in my toddler's eye.  I only put it in on one eye. i took him to the ER and was took to put some ophthalmic ointment and some systane balance eye drops but it hasn't open yet and I'm starting to freak out. He will be put to sleep next Friday if the eye doesn't open by them. I'm living hell right now. he is trying to open it but its just still too stuck to the bottom.
Has some experience this before with their little one. Help

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