The typical household items is an excellent for treating dryness and also redness of the eyes, but it’s likewise poisonous if swallowed.

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By Jessie Schiewe


When police uncovered him, Steven Clayton’s body to be sprawled ~ above the floor the the foyer in his lakeside south Carolina residence — a historic, mint eco-friendly structure modeled after ~ George Washington’s mount Vernon estate.

The 64-year-old retiree native Florida had actually died, that seemed, after acquisition a deadly tumble under a trip of stairs. It no until 2 weeks later, top top the day of his funeral, as soon as the toxicology reports come back, revealing the truth.

It had been no autumn that killed Clayton on that fateful day in July of 2018.

He had actually been poisoned.

With eye drops.

By his wife.

Tetrahydrozoline is an energetic ingredient found in both eye drops and nasal sprays that works by narrowing blood vessels, in turn reducing eye redness and stuffy noses.

But as soon as it’s swallowed in huge enough doses, the chemical can be toxicity — even deadly. Milder symptoms encompass blurred vision, challenge breathing, nausea, vomiting, temperature drops, seizures, and even comas. Death usually comes together a an outcome of heart failure.

It deserve to be hard to believe that such a common household item, sitting innocently in the bathroom cabinets and also bedside drawers the so countless people, deserve to also twin as a killing weapon.

Yet for those search out basic and fail-proof means to make others suffer, it’s one of the an ext popular prisoner to it is in used, v eye drops to blame for a grasp of crime in the critical decade.

The clear coloring of many eye drops provides mixing that in foods, and also even water, a cinch. Bottles of the stuff, specifically the much more popular brands like Visine and Opti-Clear, are also cheap and also easy to gain at most pharmacies, markets, and also convenience stores.


Exactly just how much tetrahydrozoline demands to it is in ingested before it death differs from human being to person, v every instance unique unto itself.

It took 3 days the eye fall poisonings through Clayton’s wife, Lana Sue Clayton, prior to he gave in to his final, fatal dose.

For others, like 49-year-old Marceline "Marcie" Jones, it can take even less. The new York woman passed away after a girlfriend spiked she soft drink in ~ an office Halloween party in 2008.

Usually, if caught in time, fatality by eye autumn poisoning have the right to be avoided. The individual’s age and also overall health additionally play a duty in help them endure the pain and other symptoms.

The reasons why people resort to eye drop poisonings aren’t constantly clear.

Clayton’s mam Lana Sue, who got a 25-year jail sentence for her crime, to be forthcoming around admitting she poisoned her husband, yet she never revealed a motive.

But it’s most likely money had actually something to carry out with it.

Lana Sue would have inherited Clayton’s more than $1 million in assets, in addition to his expansive Greek renewal estate valued at $822,000. According to the Washington Post, she likewise destroyed her husband’s will certainly after death him, i beg your pardon further says her motives had actually something to do with his finances.

In fact, money generally is in ~ the source of numerous eye drop poisoning cases. A few months after Clayton’s death, an additional married human killed their spouse in the exact same way.

Over the course of a few weeks in 2019, Joshua Lee Hunsucker, a paramedic in phibìc Carolina, is thought to have murdered his wife and the mommy of his two children by privately administering eye drops right into her drinks.

According come Stacy Robinson Hunsucker’s toxicology report, the quantity of tetrahydrozoline uncovered in her system was “between 30 and also 40 time the therapeutic level,” the Charlotte Observer reports.

Hunsucker’s goal, his wife’s family believes, to be to acquire Stacy’s $250,000 life insurance allowance payout. He supposedly purchased a watercraft worth $80,000 to $100,000 through the money soon after death, and used the remainder to fund “multiple expensive vacations” through his new girlfriend, who he likewise let move into the couple’s home, reports WSOC-TV.


Eye autumn poisonings have likewise appeared in famous culture, v financial incentives commonly to blame.

In Crooked House, one Agatha Christie mystery novel native 1949, a young girl death her grandfather by tricking him into drinking his very own eye drops due to the fact that she to be mad he i will not ~ pay for she ballet lessons. In a CSI episode from the early on 2000s, a hooker is recorded drugging customers with eye fall so the she have the right to rob them and also then flee.

But not all that commit eye fall poisonings execute so with the will to death or because that the hunger that money. In fact, thanks to a the majority of misinformation the end there, not everyone seems to recognize that ingesting eye drops have the right to be lethal. Castle think that just reasons really negative diarrhea.

Because of this, the not unusual for human being to traction pranks or exact revenge by mickeying another’s drink with a couple of squirts the Visine to provide them the runs. Unsuspecting high schoolers have actually done it to both your classmates and also teachers as jokes.

In 2019, a san Diego man, reasoning he to be committing a “harmless prank,” spiked two of his coworkers’ water bottles through the stuff. One of them to be his supervisor who reported suffering nausea and pain so poor it was “almost like hot pokers, virtually like job pain.”

The urban myth the eye drops cause diarrhea has actually been made every the more believable in current years thanks to movies choose Wedding Crashers and also shows like Orange Is The brand-new Black where personalities dose others through eye drops since of your presumed laxative-like affects.

In fact, it’s with the media that numerous eye drop poisoners learn around the under-the-radar torture tactic. The woman who spiked she friend’s drink at the office Halloween party gained the idea ~ watching Wedding Crashers. She stated she thought it would be funny just like it was in the film when Owen Wilson’s character provides Bradley Cooper’s character invest all night in the bathroom.

Alexis Jennings, the teenager that tried to death her stepmother by poisoning the woman’s teas and also coffees, likewise devised the system thanks come the media. She said she had actually read a news story about a human being who go something similar.

Less typical are accidental eye drop poisonings, but they do happen — and most of the time they indicate children.

Usually, the child will find a party lying about the home in straightforward reach and will play with, suck, or chew ~ above it, eat the fluid in the process. Children in between the ages of 1 month to 5 years room the most most likely to knock ago a Visine, v the Food and Drug administration citing roughly 100 cases involving infants overdosing top top the product between 1985 and 2012.


When a 1-year-old young in Pennsylvania ingested eye drops on at least two occasions last year, that was also by accident — just in a various way. The toddler had actually sipped from juice boxes and water bottles intended because that his larger brother, that was being slowly poisoned by his mother, Samantha Elizabeth Unger. The 23-year-old — who likely suffers native a mental health disorder dubbed Munchausen syndrome by proxy — didn’t keep track of exactly how much Visine she put into her boy sippy cups and Capri Suns, but knew she offered at least one bottle.

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Eventually, the 3-year-old ended up being so sick the he to be flown through helicopter come the penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical center for treatment. Physicians there claimed the boy landed on the hospital v “life-threatening clinical signs,” including a love rate about 40, PennLive reports.

He survived, and also now the brothers live with their grandparents. Unger, meanwhile, is serving a three-and-a-half come 12 year jail sentence. Had the young died, her prison stint would have been longer, but luckily for him, her dosage was not enough to kill.