Hoaxes & Rumors

Debunked: Barbecuing Doesn’t Melt Contact Lenses to the Eye

Debunked: Barbecuing Doesn’t Melt Contact Lenses to the Eye
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A long-standing rumor warns that barbecuing while wearing contact lenses can cause them to melt, fusing them to the eye and causing blindness. Today we’ll look at this rumor.

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It’s not true.

This warning has been around in various incarnations for many years, yet those spreading this misinformation do not include trusted sources to back up the claims. Instead, rumors such as these rely on a vague anecdotal story as “proof.” Let’s take a look at this warning, as seen in this popular 2013 version:

Contact rumor
Important Information :

A 21 year old guy had worn a pair of contact lenses during a barbecue party.(An event or meal at which food is cooked outdoors over an open grill or fire). While barbecuing he stared at the fire charcoals continuously for 2-3 minutes. After a few minutes, he started to scream for help and moved rapidly, jumping up and down. No one in the party knew why he was doing this?

Then he admitted into the Hospital, the doctor said he’ll be blind permanently because of the contact lenses that he had worn. Contact lenses are made by plastics, and the heat from the charcoal melted his contact lenses.

DO NOT WEAR CONTACT LENSES WHERE OVERHEATING AND FLAMES ARE CONCERNED…. OR WHILE COOKING…!

Friends if u feel the information is important, Please share this message to all your near & dear ones.

Observations

Anyone who has grilled while wearing contacts can probably debunk the story above. If such a problem existed, it would stand to reason that millions of contact lens wearers would be susceptible to such danger, yet no examples can be found in any news sources or official warnings.

The amount of heat that a person’s face would need to endure in order to damage contact lenses in this manner would be unbearable. It would likely damage a person’s skin long before melting contact lenses. Because the contact lens and the eye are in the same proximity to the fire, it would stand to reason that the eye itself would be exposed to the same extreme heat as the contacts.

FDA

The FDA has a fact sheet with warnings pertaining to contact lenses, yet nothing is said about barbecuing while wearing them. There are warnings regarding care and cleaning, plus those involving swimming or exposing the lenses to water, but no warnings regarding heat. Most warnings related to contact lenses relate to proper care of the lenses, eye irritation, and infection.

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EyeSmart

The question of contacts melting to a person’s eyes was posed on the website EyeSmart in 2013. Dr W. Barry Lee noted that “staring into a fire for two to three minutes would not allow the contacts to reach its melting point…” He suggested that dry eyes would be a more likely consequence of staring into a fire.

Melting Point of Contact Lenses

Because there are many types of contact lenses, it’s impossible to state a definite “melting point” for all of them. Acrylic contacts, for example, would probably have a melting point of about 320 degrees F (160C), which is far beyond the heat a person experiences while barbecuing.

Bottom Line

Why people feel compelled to spread false information is one of the great mysteries of the internet. Once such a rumor gains traction, many well-intentioned people think nothing of passing this “helpful” warning along without even checking it for accuracy.

There is no evidence that wearing contacts while barbecuing will cause contacts to melt.

Updated May 8, 2015
Originally published February 2013

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