methanol toxity in case of eye-contact ?

David N. Zuckerberg, M.D. dnz at infohouse.com
Sun Jun 16 10:40:31 EST 1996

In article <wpenrose.393.00ABC8B0 at interaccess.com>,
wpenrose at interaccess.com (William R. Penrose) wrote:

>In article <6AS-0ZGHEfB at athene.sirene> sciva13 at sirene.IN-Berlin.DE writes:
>>my toxicologie book states, that methanol intoxication  involves bio- 
>>transformation to formic acid, and that it is supposed to be the formic  
>>acid, that ist the agent causing the actual eye-damage. 
>I thought that the formic acid acted directly on the optic nerve, not on the 
>exterior surfaces of the eye.
>Bill Penrose, Sr. Scientist, Transducer Research, Inc.
email wpenrose at interaccess.com

Methanol toxicity from topical eye contact would seem to be limited to
direct eye surface irritation. It is likely that the corneal surface would
be denuded (it would be quite painful, but likely heal quickly, as do most
corneal abrasions.)
Systemic toxicity is due to methanol's metabolites which eventually
produce formaldehyde which is a metabolic dead end if memory serves me
correctly. Formaldehyde has a very high affinity for retinal tissue.

The treatment for methanol toxicity is intentional ethanol intoxication.
The metabolism of methanol to its toxic metabolites is blocked by direct
competition at the receptor site of alcohol dehydrogenase by the ethanol
which has a higher affinity and by mass action. I believe the body's mixed
function oxidase then metabolises the methanol to nontoxic metabolites,
but to take this as gospel, you'd best check out a medical toxicology text
to make sure I've got the facts right. (Try Goldfrank's text.)

David N. Zuckerberg, M.D.
Emergency Medicine Physician
Westchester County Medical Center
"Waitress, do you have any hot sauce?"

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