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Broken Bad

Methamphetamine has seen a boom in its production and use in the last 20 years, not to mention becoming the infamous star of a rather popular TV show. But in reality, the drug is often made in cramped, ill-equipped locations by individuals who lack the appropriate wet lab skills to be handling chemicals like anhydrous ammonia, sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid and lighter fluid – which means injuries, including severe ocular burns, are fairly common.

Physicians from the Cincinnati Eye Institute reviewed a series of cases where patients were referred to them for treatment of ocular injuries related to methamphetamine manufacturing-related accidents, with a focus on long-term management and outcomes. In the five patients who met the study criteria, it was found that compliance with treatment was the best indicator of a good outcome for patients (1).

However, the researchers also cite issues with studying this subgroup of patients – they are often noncompliant with treatment, and are more likely to refuse to give a history or to provide incorrect information. The majority of patients with ocular burns resulting from methamphetamine production also lack health insurance, making their treatment more problematic.

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  1. A Movahedan, et al., “Long-term management of severe ocular surface injury due to methamphetamine production accidents”, Cornea, 433–437 (2015). PMID: 25642642.
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