Why Do My Father's Eyes Sting Only in the Kitchen?
February 12, 2005 3:29 PM   Subscribe

My father's eyes sting when we use the kitchen...

My father, a hypochondriac, has problems with his eyes any time we use a toaster, toaster-oven, or oven to make anything in our kitchen. I am only living in his house for another month, but I want to be able to cook. Does anybody have any thoughts or recommendations on things he should do?

We have tried cleaning the appliances, turning on exhaust fans, and eye drops. Any thoughts are appreciated.
posted by crazy finger to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Response by poster: (I forgot to mention that he is 72)
posted by crazy finger at 3:30 PM on February 12, 2005

Is it a problem only when he's in the kitchen, or anywhere in the house?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:55 PM on February 12, 2005

I have had stinging eyes in the kitchen for two major reasons:

1. onions, either cutting them, or them cooking, or them stuck to something that was hot.

2. oil cooking, mostly this happened when we were seasoning a pan and basically baking a hot pan with oil on it. I'm not sure what happened but it seemed like the hot oil just aeresolized and got everyplace and my eyes would sting like the bejesus.

If there is oily stuff in the toaster oven, this might be the problem. Also, consider turning a fan on high [or putting on in if you don't have a kitchen fan, it can even be a countertop fan] and/or give your Dad some swim goggles while you're cooking for a few more weeks.
posted by jessamyn at 4:12 PM on February 12, 2005

Oven cleaner residue could also be a culprit. That stuff is purest evil.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:28 PM on February 12, 2005

If you are going to be living in his house for just another month and he's happy with what he does in the kitchen, you should do nothing, or at least nothing major. Have sandwiches, soup, whatever doesn't bother your poor old father's eyes. You could experiment until you figure it out, but you could also just wait.

And even if he wants the help, you may not be able to give it to him if it's just his hypochondria telling him that he's suffering from something bad in the air. You don't say your eyes sting, so maybe there's nothing there.
posted by pracowity at 5:41 PM on February 12, 2005

You might also consider Teflon as a source of irritation.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:41 PM on February 12, 2005

have you thought of bringing your Dad to a doctor? what if his eyes continue to sting after you are gone?

it could be severe dryness in the eyes - I had something similar last year, and had to get eye drops to stop the stinging. the skin on my retina was dry and cracked.

he may be a hypochondriac, but his complaint could be a legitimate one this time.
posted by seawallrunner at 5:51 PM on February 12, 2005

My eyes sting when people cook onions and certain spices (middle eastern and south-asian foods, often, if that helps narrow down the spice culprit). This happens to me when it does not happen to other people, so I do not think its necessarily hypochondria.

Oh, and since you mention it's the toaster-oven specifically..my worst ever burning eyes were from a toaster-oven-- it was some sort of very strongly Pakistani flat-bread.

I do have unusually sensitive eyes, though..my ophthalmologist recommended Refresh eyedrops for that and said I should use the preservative free kind, since the preservatives could cause irritation.

My usual solution is to go to my room and close the door.
posted by duck at 5:57 PM on February 12, 2005

As the appliances warm, perhaps they are releasing fumes from cleaning products used previously.
posted by Tarrama at 6:28 PM on February 12, 2005

I think the clue is that these are heating appliances. How clean are they? My oven, which does not get cleaned often enough can get a bit smoky when I use it (and a lot smoky if I turn the temperature way up) and it makes my eyes water long before I'm able to see the actual smoke. Are your appliances clean? And as others have suggested are they both clean and rinsed free of cleaners?
posted by jacquilynne at 10:32 PM on February 12, 2005

Even hypochondriacs have real problems at times. I echo the advice to get his eyes checked out. He may have "dry eyes" or another condition that causes them to be easily irritated.

Smoking oil makes my eyes burn and makes me cough long before it's visible. He may be just a bit more sensitive.

If his eyes don't suffer when HE bakes, etc.. I'd say that he's as ready as you for the month to be over. (grinning, here)
posted by reflecked at 5:16 AM on February 13, 2005

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