Vodka 'eye drops' are no joke

The health risks can be severe, but they have not stopped partygoers here from dabbling in new, unconventional ways to get a cheap and quick "high".

These include "vodka eyeballing", inhaling "laughing gas" and even ingesting hand sanitiser.

The latest fad, vodka eyeballing, involves having vodka dripped into a person's eye sockets, and is said to have started in Britain in 2010.

Partygoers such as full-time national serviceman Lawrence, 21, and 19-year-old undergraduate Sherry (not their real names), who carry out the activity regularly, say it is all the rage now.

"I replace the solution in my bottle of eye drops with vodka, and carry it around with me when I go to a club. My friends and I call them vodka eye drops," Lawrence told my paper.

He said that just a few drops of vodka can bring on an "instant high".

"The vodka stings your eyes for a few seconds at first, but it's still better than drinking copious amounts to get the same high," he said.

Sherry said she does vodka eyeballing to avoid the nauseating effects of being drunk.

She told my paper: "You can't vomit if you did not drink anything, and when I go home after a night out, my parents can't smell the alcohol on my breath."

Both learnt about the practice through videos posted on YouTube and Facebook.

Partygoers are also known to consume hand sanitiser - which contains ethanol - after distilling the liquid.

"It takes a bit more effort (than vodka eyeballing) but the effects are worth it," said Sherry.

In the United States, there have been reports of teens suffering from alcohol poisoning as a result of consuming hand sanitiser.

In the past, young people have turned to methods such as ingesting cough syrup, or inhaling muscle-relaxant sprays - which contain nitrous oxide, also known as "laughing gas" - for a "quick high".

Nitrous oxide and ethanol are not listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act or the Intoxicating Substances Act, said the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), as they have "legitimate medical and industrial uses".

A CNB spokesman said: "This being so, a balanced approach towards regulation of such products is necessary, and it is not feasible to ban the supply and sale of these substances (the moment) signs of abuse surface."

Long-term effects of nitrousoxide abuse include disorientation, depression and damage to the nervous system and other organs, the spokesman added.

"The public should not experiment with it."

Dr James Pan, medical director and senior consultant at Nobel Eye & Vision Centre in Mount Alvernia Hospital Medical Centre, said that when vodka comes into contact with the eyeball, it can increase the risk of cornea abrasions and eye infections in the long run.

"Eye infections can lead to cornea scarring and, eventually, blindness if not properly treated," he warned.

Eye specialists also said that it is a myth that vodka eyeballing can provide a "quick high".

Said Dr Leonard Ang, medical director of the Eye & Cornea Transplant Centre in Orchard Road: "Absorption through the mucus membrane of the eye is very limited, and people who practise this are probably intoxicated already."

verenal@sph.com.sg


For more my paper stories click here.

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