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Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?

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Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?

Onions are one of the most common staple foods around the globe. Ironically, for a vegetable so delicious, they can often be tear-jerkers.

Read on to learn why onions cause your eyes to tear and sting, and what you can do to minimize discomfort.

Why Does Cutting Onions Cause Tearing?

Onions produce a sulfur compound called propyl sulfoxide that is stored in the cells of the onion bulb (the part of the onion we eat). Onions grow underground, where they can be eaten by all types of creatures. This odorous sulfuric compound acts as a deterrent to small animals with big appetites.

When one slices into an onion and breaks open its cells, the sulfur compound is released and mixes with the moisture in the air — turning it into smelly and irritating sulfuric acid. When this chemical rises up and comes in contact with your eyes, it stings!

To keep your eyes from potentially being damaged from this chemical exposure, your brain triggers your eyes to tear and flush out the irritating gas particles. Once enough tears have flushed out the sulfuric acids particles from the eye, clear vision and comfort is usually restored. Although your eyes may sting and feel unpleasant, symptoms are temporary and the sulfuric acid won’t damage your eyes.

How Can I Reduce Eye Discomfort When Chopping Onions?

Most experienced chefs will tell you that chilling your onions in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing them will reduce the amount of tearing they cause. Propyl sulfoxide escapes slower in cooler temperatures, reducing the amount of sulfuric acid in the air.

You can also try cutting the onions at arm’s length, or direct the odorous air away with a small fan. Some say that chopping onions immersed in water also helps. Another option is to wear kitchen goggles to protect your eyes.

Furthermore, try to use fresh onions whenever possible. The longer an onion has been stored, the more likely it will induce tearing and discomfort. Try to avoid slicing near the root end of the bulb, as that area has the highest concentration of sulfuric compounds.

Still Having Eye Problems Out of the Kitchen?

If you frequently suffer from eye irritation — and not just while cutting onions — we can help. At The Vision Centers, we treat a wide range of eye conditions and can provide you with the treatment and relief you seek.

For further questions or to schedule an eye exam, call us today.

At The Vision Centers, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 702-254-6222 or book an appointment online to see one of our Las Vegas eye doctors.

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When Do You Need to See an Eye Doctor

A person who is having problems with their vision may have trouble with usually simple day-to-day activities. Catching eye problems early and having regular visits with an optometrist are imperative to maintaining good visual health. The golden rule is to have at least one optometrist appointment every year, but there are instances where a visit should be scheduled immediately.

If a person’s eyes are tearing up more often than usual and for no apparent reason, it may be time for them to visit an optometrist. Tears are the body’s natural way of saying that something is wrong. Even more moisture than usual could be a sign of a potential problem. They can be common symptoms of a more serious developing visual problem.

Many people don’t even consider going to see an eye doctor after sustaining an injury to the face directly around their eye, but this is usually a mistake. An orbital fracture from a facial injury could actually cause damage to a person’s eye and affect their vision. Even people who have corrected vision should visit an optometrist if they sustain an injury to their eye due to the fact that the damage could cause further complications.

Pain in the eyes or headaches centered behind a person’s eyes are one of the most obvious signs that an optometrist appointment should be made. People’s eyes don’t hurt naturally unless there is a problem. Even people who are already wearing corrective lenses should visit an eye doctor in these cases because they may need a new prescription.

Visual Issues
Visual issues are the most obvious signs that a trip to the optometrist should be made soon. These problems can include blurry vision, spots in a person’s visual field, random flashes of light or even just difficulty seeing things. These problems should be taken to an optometrist immediately.