I work for a company that distributes contact lenses, mainly responding to our email and text support line. Most complaints usually boil down to “I didn’t want that order”, “These contacts suck”, or “Why is my order taking so long”. There’s positive ones of course as well, but those are less fun. Some minor variance but that’s the norm.
Today a new one comes in.
They had already been helped by someone else, and were just replying to acknowledge they were taken care of, and thanking us for her help. However they went on to say they wanted to file a complaint either with us or the manufacturer about the harmful nature of the solution in her contacts! They contained thimersol and mercury, which are some of the most harmful substances to us. She was rather polite, and I give her credit for that. Most people fly off the handle so it was a nice change.
I wasn’t 100% certain what thimersol was, it was my first time hearing the word, so I looked it up.
Having taken general chemistry in my first year of college my assumption initially was it’s some compound with mercury in the name, that due to chemistry reasons and science is no longer harmful and is fine for whatever it’s being used in for contacts.
Yeeeup. Thimersol is Ethyl(2-mercaptobenzoato-(2-)-O,S) mercurate(1-) sodium , or in other names, Mercury((o-carboxyphenyl)thio)ethyl sodium salt . It’s a very well established antiseptic and antifungal agent, basically means things don’t get infected, which is important for contacts obviously. Other quick glances through google mention Thimersol in vaccines…..a little bit further of a google search and the anti-vax pages start popping up. I decided to let it go by, thank her for her concern and move on with my day.