My eyes taste like burning.
December 17, 2006 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Help, capsaicin on contacts.

I had thought that several hours and a half dozen thorough handwashings after cooking, I'd be okay, but apparently not. I soaked them in milk for a bit this morning and that seemed to clear up one of them, and make the other one tolerable enough to wear for now, but there's still a mild burning sensation.

My question is will this eventually go away on its own or do I need to buy new contacts?
posted by empath to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Maybe try the protein-eating enzyme caplets? Most contact lens brands make them. They are little pills that you put in with your contacts. It all goes fizzy. The enzymes are munching on all the proteins collected on your lenses. Leave for an hour. Rinse well.
posted by typewriter at 7:51 AM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: Well :) i have stuff to do today...

I can definitely put up with the mild irritation i'm currently experiencing, as long as it's only going to last another hour or two... if this isn't going to go away, I'm definitely going to get new ones.
posted by empath at 8:02 AM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: btw, kids, wear gloves when you chop chili's
posted by empath at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2006

New Contacts (had same problem, but as I replace mine every 2 weeks, I had some spares). If you don't have gloves available, covering your hands with some olive oil first will give you a barrier when chopping the chillis.
posted by azlondon at 8:52 AM on December 17, 2006

New contacts aren't always an option, especially for those of us who wear hard contacts.

If you have hard contacts, rinse with lots and lots of water, soak them for a while, then rinse with lots and lots of water again. Also give your eyes time to heal. If your eyes are still irritated when you put the clean contacts back in, they'll likely bug you even if the capsaicin is gone.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:01 AM on December 17, 2006

From my experience as a "laboratory glassware maintenance technician" (ie, test tube washer), I suggest placing them under running water for at least an hour. Soaking is not enough; the water must be continiously agitated to be effective.
posted by SPrintF at 10:05 AM on December 17, 2006

Have you tried isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol? It seems to do the trick when capsaicin is on my hands.
posted by Durin's Bane at 10:54 AM on December 17, 2006

FYI, capsaicin is soluble in alcohol, though I have no idea how that might affect your contact lens.

That's also why some say drinking a beer after spicy food is better than water (though I doubt a 5% ethanol solution is really sufficient to effectively dissolve capsaicin..maybe tequila would be better.)

Anyway, you could try doing a 30%-50% rubbing alcohol solution to see what happens. Maybe warming the alcohol would improve the solvency as well. Then rinse the lens thoroughly before trying again.
posted by dendrite at 11:09 AM on December 17, 2006

Capsaicin from what kind of chilis? I dried and ground some habaneros this summer. They were in a plastic bowl. Popcorn made into that bowl is still spicy hot in the bottom.

It absorbs into plastic and it is just going to take time to come out, and I'm guessing more than a couple hours.
posted by Listener at 11:37 AM on December 17, 2006

Capsaicin is the "hot stuff" in all peppers. Habaneros have more than just about anything else. My favorite chicken soup recipe calls for a single habanero - it's enough to make an entire pot of soup satisfyingly hot.

Once, I made the mistake of taking a quick bathroom break shortly after preparing the pepper. As I don't wash my hands until after taking care of things, I deposited habanero juice on a particularly sensitive area.

It was excruciating. The only thing I can think of that'd be more unpleasant is getting it your eyes. For safety's sake, I'd get a new pair of contacts.
posted by aladfar at 1:06 PM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: They were actually relatively mild green chilis.

And, fyi, everything is fine now.
posted by empath at 1:32 PM on December 17, 2006

My advice on all of this is to switch to 2 week disposables. I've had the best vision and eye care routine ever since I did so.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 3:25 PM on December 17, 2006

When this happened to me it did fade after a couple of hours. (as it sounds like has happened here). Leaving them soaking overnight in their normal solution (as I do every night anyway) also gets rid of it, possibly because the solution I use is an all-in-one thing which has proteases in there already.

I really wouldn't put soft contact lenses in alcohol. Or fresh water either (it dries them out). Just stick to the stuff actually made for putting contact lenses into and the stingyness will go away.
posted by shelleycat at 6:54 PM on December 17, 2006

Maybe try the protein-eating enzyme caplets?

Capsaicin is not a protein.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:44 AM on December 18, 2006

Happened to me once. I was using dried red pepper flakes, washed my hands thoroughly even though I was sure I hadn't touched the flakes then proceeded to put my contacts in.

After quickly pulling them back out, I rinsed the hell out of them and my eyes with saline, and then put the contacts back in. I know now I shouldn't have done that but back then I didn't.

Anyway, long story short, the burning went away after a short while and my eyes have never yet achieved that level of whiteness. Weird.
posted by lyam at 11:45 AM on December 18, 2006

**should read, never again, not never yet.
posted by lyam at 11:46 AM on December 18, 2006

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