What Would Happen If You Jabbed Chili Peppers Into Your Eyes ?

Jan 17, 2020 06:05 PM 0 Answers
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- Jan 17, 2020 06:05 PM

This is What Would Happen If, a close examination of mundane hypothetical situations. Each week, we look at something that you could do but probably never would, and take it to its logical endpoint. This week: What would happen if you jabbed chili peppers into your eyes?

Like your ears, the list of things you should not put in your eyes includes just about everything. But hey, life isn’t perfect. Sometimes stuff gets into your eyes.

So what if that something was, well, one of the worst things to stick in your eye? Maybe it’s due to a momentary lapse in concentration, maybe you’ve succumbed to a dare or maybe you’re just bored out of your mind — but what would happen if you just went and jabbed a nice, juicy chili pepper into your eye?

As you might guess, the first thing that will happen is that it will burn like heck. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical notorious for eliciting a burning sensation when it comes into contact with the human body. In low doses it’s actually good, providing temporary pain relief to those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis when applied as a topical cream.

However, when applied in high doses, say directly from a chili pepper, directly into one of the body’s most sensitive organs, the eyes, it’s bad. The degree to which it’ll burn and how profuse your tears will be largely depends on the chili pepper used to self-own yourself. Chili pepper enthusiasts use the Scoville scale to measure the amount of capsaicin in a given species of chili. It’s not a perfect system — the test is performed by continually diluting a chili pepper extract until a panel of taste testers cannot taste the heat — but provides a rough hierarchy of chili pepper heat. On the low end are jalapeños, and on the high end is pepper spray.

So, we’re looking at either introducing a healthy dose of severe irritant into your eyes, or just straight up pepper spraying yourself in the face. In either case you’re looking at severe pain, swelling, redness and profuse amounts of tears.

Up until this point, nothing actually bad has happened to your eyes. Sure, it hurts a bunch, and you might feel like you’re dying but this is merely the body’s reaction to capsaicin. Your eyes aren’t actually being melted away by some powerful acid. No, the real bad stuff happens when you start to rub your eyes.

The extent of which you’ll ruin your eyes depends on how vigorously you rub them. It’s hard to say how involuntary this is. Sure, by sheer force of will you could sit there with burning, tearing eyes, refusing to rub them. But there’s no guarantee that your tears alone would be able to flush the offending capsaicin out. If you did absolutely nothing, refusing even to wash your eyes out in the shower, then you might be looking at a near-unending life of pain and blurred vision.

In one case study published in the Review of Optometry, Dr. Len V. Hua found that if you are able to immediately wash out your eyes — water, not milk, is best he finds — you’ll walk away with minimal swelling, redness and pain. But when you try to flush out the capsaicin with your own dang fist — as evidenced by Dr. Hua’s unlucky patient who was pepper sprayed at a club — you risk scratching your corneas.

Corneal scratching is bad and it’s only exacerbated by whatever bacteria your fist is introducing to your eyeballs. This will, you guessed it, lead to an infection. Infection will lead to fun conditions like corneal ulcers and even blindness.

So in a worst-case scenario you jab something like a Carolina Reaper into your eye. It hurts like heck and you use your dirty hands to try and dig out the capsaicin. An infection develops, eats away your cornea and you eventually go blind.

Now, we know you aren’t this careless, but let’s learn something here. Let’s say you’re enjoying a delicious jalapeño popper and, thoughtlessly, you decide to scratch an itch near your eye. Gah, it burns, I’m so stupid you might think to yourself. The solution is simple: calmly make your way to the nearest bathroom, and rinse out your eye with water. Problem solved. Now don’t get any hot ideas.

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