Soap pods can pose danger to eyes: Quad City girl's story

Published: Feb. 6, 2018 at 2:45 PM CST
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Despite the warnings, it's an ongoing problem. Kids are getting their hands on laundry and dishwasher soap pods, causing serious injury. But it's not just toddlers putting them in their mouths. The popular soap delivery system is also causing serious and even permanent damage to kids' eyes.

"They're beautiful, they're multi-colored, they're very squishy and soft and they look like something to play with," says Pediatric Ophthalmologist Dr. John Frederick. He believes that's why he's seeing more patients involved in accidents with the pods, including 3-year-old Parker Frerichs. She was playing the in the family laundry room last fall when the soap from one of those pods splashed into her eye.

"Got into the pod bucket and she must have picked one up and she said she was playing with it and must have squeezed it and it burst into her face," said Jill Frerichs, Parker's mom.

Parker complained of a lot of pain, so her parents rushed her to the hospital, and later to the eye doctor. Dr. Fredrick says that quick response probably helped save her sight, but not without significant damage.

"The chemical exposure was such, that it had dissolved the very front part of her eye," said Dr. Frederick.

He put a contact lens in Parker's eye to reduce the pain and help with healing. Then, covered it with a patch for several days.

"She wouldn't open the other eye, so for about four days she was without eyesight because she would open her good eye and the other would open, and it would cause pain," Parker's mom added.

After treatments with drops and several doctor visits, Parker has 100-percent recovered.

She's not alone when it comes to these type of mishaps. In one study, nearly 500 children suffered eye injuries from soap pods in one year. Part of the problem is they are under pressure and made with a thin membrane. They're designed that way so they will dissolve quickly.

Now, Dr. Frederick wants to get the word out that they are dangerous for kids. Despite the warnings on the packages, he's treated patients who have suffered permanent eye damage from the chemicals in the pods. They may be more convenient than traditional soap, but,

"To me, anyone with young children, I just think it's better to avoid using them at all," Dr. Frederick added.

Parker's mom has a message for other parents, as well.

"Definitely keep cleaning products stored away, locked up and out of reach of kids, regardless of their age," she said.

Parker's mom also suggests keeping the poison control hotline number handy in case of an emergency. That number is (800) 222-1222