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Editor,—Foam parties are becoming an increasingly popular method of enhancing entertainment at dance parties and discotheques. Foam is usually shot out of a cannon onto people on the dance floor who then dance covered in foam. The effects of this foam have hardly ever been examined.1 We would like to report three patients who had a keratoconjunctivitis and corneal epithelial defect as a result of having foam sprayed in their eyes.
Three patients arrived at the emergency room of the ophthalmology department all complaining of sudden pain and burning in both eyes after having foam sprayed into their faces during a dance party in a discotheque.
All patients had no known ophthalmological problems whatsoever and were healthy individuals otherwise. They had all tried to wash out the foam with tap water after the injury occurred.
After pH measurement, irrigation and flooding with isotonic sodium chloride solution as well as ascorbic acid was undertaken. All patients were then tested for their visual acuity. This was followed by a slit-lamp examination.
The average pH value was 7.5. The mean visual acuity was Snellen 0.5 (20/40), the exact breakdown being seen in Table 1.
All three patients had follicular and papillary conjunctival injection. The corneal involvement was either in the form of punctate epithelial defects (three of the six eyes) or as a full epithelial corneal defect (three eyes).
Full epithelial defects were then treated with a patch using gentamicin and prednisolone ointment. The punctate defects were treated with gentamicin and prednisolone drops three times daily. The next day, all patients were re-examined and in two cases further therapy with betamethasone/neomycin eyedrops four times daily was necessary for another 24 hours.
After contacting the representative of the foam manufacturer, we received a fax which described the foam as non-toxic (LD50 > 10.00 mg/kg) and over 90% biodegradable. The content of the foam was described as ‘anionic tensoactives’ (not further defined).
This report shows that chemical foam used in dance parties should be considered as an alkali substance which can have a very toxic effect on the eye. It is important to specify the toxicity of these substances and warn that such foams can have harmful ophthalmic effects.