Hello, 911? I’ve Accidentally Poisoned My Own Eyes


"What's that you say? You also do eye-lifts as a side business? Sign me up!"

“What’s that you say? You also do eye lifts as a side business? Sign me up!”


Today, I have a confession.  I’m engaged in an ongoing war with my eyes.

Like a lot of women, I have concerns about the skin under my eyes, and my eyelids, which are in my opinion drooping southward at an alarming rate. I’m not ready to sign up for the full “Kenny Rogers” just yet, but I’m not ruling anything out either, know what I’m saying?

I’m also super self-conscious about under-eye puffiness. (Okay, now you’re looking. I see you looking. Don’t look!) Every single cosmetics person I’ve ever met has taken one look at me and immediately reached for an array of industrial strength eye de-puffer gels, roller-ball thingies, concealers, correctors, translucent powders, you name it.

Since my 20s, I’ve used eye cream morning and night, determined to stave off  wrinkles for as long as possible. So far so good.  I’ve always used the same eye cream, with occasional forays into a sample product that comes my way. Nothing this gal likes better than a sample beauty product. Weird ingredients are a plus. Soothing under-eye balm made from the oil extracted from the belly hairs of an Arapawa Goat? Tomato chutney eye firming cream with essence of kumquat and kava kava? Bring it on.

So last night, before turning in I did my whole skin care routine as per usual.  At the end I reached for my regular eye cream, but, Oh! What was this? A sample of a cream called “Midnight Eye Recovery” that I hadn’t tried yet?  Its sleek dark blue packaging beckoned. Promising “a restorative concentrate of essential oils and botanicals, providing fresher, younger eyes by morning”, this was obviously the Ferrari of eye creams. Oooh, so fancy! I dabbed it around my eyes and went to bed. Layer 1.

In the morning when I woke up I noticed gigantic, puffy bags under my eyes. Like, an entire set of Samsonite had taken up residence between my eyes and my cheekbones. This was not good. This was not the youthful look I was promised. For God’s sake, I looked like Abe Vigoda.

So, what did I do? In a hurry to get out the door for school drop-off, I reached for my eye de-puffer, the one that smells like oranges and has a little roller ball on the end. I swiped it under both eyes, and waited for the magic to begin. Layer 2.

And of course after, because the eye de-puffer dries kind of tight, I smoothed on my regular daytime eye-cream. . So, layer 3.

I loaded the kids in the car and we set off for school. But I wasn’t two blocks from home when I knew something was wrong. My eyes started to hurt like they do when I’m chopping onions. And the bright sun (of course I had forgotten my sunglasses) was making it worse. Then, my eyes started to water.

Not knowing what else to do, I pressed at my eyes with my fingers because that’s what you do when your eyes hurt. But as a burning sensation joined the rest of the discomfort, I remembered that I had put some aloe-vera gel… with lidocane… on one of the children just before school. The remnants of which were on my fingers that I had just stuck into my eyeballs.

“Ow ow ow ow something’s wrong with my eyes!” I shouted as I frantically wiped at my eyes with what I hoped was a clean sleeve. Lucy looked on in concern from the passenger seat. I did not share with her my sudden, shameful realization:

I had slathered so much crap on my eyes that I had created noxious fumes and a blinding toxic sludge.

The more tears my eyes produced the more of it that ran into my eyes. Oh, god, I was probably going to be blinded for life! I began to picture having to pull over and call 911, and explain to the paramedics what happened. Though I wouldn’t see it, because, you know, I’d be blind, they’d give each other that look that clearly says, “What a dumbass.”

I didn’t have to call 911, but because there was traffic, the rest of the trip to school took twice as long, and went like this:

Scoot forward 10 feet. Squeeze eyes shut. Scoot forward 10 feet. Squeeze eyes shut. Scoot forward 10 feet. Squeeze eyes shut.

As we slowly made our way toward school, I groped in my purse for a tissue. Finding one, I started to dab at my eyes, hoping for some relief. As I dabbed, I smelled… mint? Aaaaaghhh… the tissue was right next to some mint gum in my purse, and now in addition to everything else I had mint fumes in my eyes.

Because I couldn’t see well, Lucy sat in the passenger seat and shouted “Stop! Go! Red light! Green light! Brake lights!” as we crept along.  Magpie and the Boy were in the back seat, and they were really quiet.  Most likely out of fear that I was going to run us into a telephone pole.

By the time I dropped the kids off at school, my eyes had had enough, and were trying were trying to involuntarily close. So I literally had to drive home with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand holding my eyelids open. I passed a cop coming the other way, and I’m sure he thought I was one of those “Suburban Moms Who Huff” like on Dr. Phil.

Lesson learned. From now on I’ll stick to one product at a time. But guess what? After I got home and flushed out my eyes, I looked “fresh and youthful” the rest of the day! I even got compliments from other people that I looked good. I might be on to something, here folks.

And that is that temporary blindness is a small price to pay for beauty.

Notes From the Shallow End