Visine and Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

03 Jul



Visine is a useful medication. I use it all the time. When the Santa Ana’s blow in SoCal and the temperature rises, the humidity falls, and eyes dry out, Visine works very well. When used properly it is very safe and effective—-but, if used improperly, it can be a deadly poison.

Actually, anything can be deadly. The difference between a drug and a poison is simply a matter of dose. What can cure, can harm; what can harm, can kill. It’s really that simple.

The active, and dangerous, ingredient in Visine is tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride. If ingested in sufficient amounts, it can cause an elevation in blood pressure, a drop in heart rate, a reduction in body temperature, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, blurred vision, seizures, coma, and death, to name a few effects.

The case of Samantha Elizabeth Unger underlines this danger. Seems she poisoned her two children by adding the medication to their juice. And may have done so multiple times—-which could indicate that this is a case of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy—a psychiatric disorder in which parents harm children in order to garner attention and sympathy. Odd, but not rare.

Recently on Crime and Science Radio, Jan Burke and I interviewed Beatrice Yorker, the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Los Angeles and a renowned expert in Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. Take a listen and check out some of the links for more info on the fascinating topic.



10 responses to “Visine and Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

  1. Craig Faustus Buck

    July 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Munchausen By Proxy is one of my all-time favorite syndromes. I can’t wait to listen. Thanks, Doug.


  2. Kait Carson

    July 3, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I used Visine in my first novel, Zoned for Murder. I’ve gotten a number of comments from people who basically say, “That can’t be right.” Ah, the multiple deaths lurking in our medicine cabinets. Always interested in Munchausen By Proxy. Looking forward to listening to Beatrice Yorker.


  3. Michele Drier

    July 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Years ago I ran a large counseling center for victims of incest and sexual assault and we had a self-referral of a Munchausen’s patient. Then several years later I was a newspaper editor and one of my reporters covered a Munchausen By Proxy murder of a child at a local hospital. The mom was caught on surveillance tape. Odd, odd disease.


  4. Donna Albrecht

    July 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I really enjoyed the radio interview with Beatrice Yorker, thanks for posting it.

    I was wondering how much Visine would be required to sicken and later kill a 7 month old child. Would it be one dose at a time or could it be accumulated over repeated doses?

    Donna Albrecht


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      July 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Donna–I don’t answer story questions here on my blog as I require certain information before I do so. Visit my website at where you will find instructions for submitting questions. Thanks.


  5. gippyhenry7

    September 25, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Thank you so much for this information. I have friends and family who have used Visine over the years. I will be happy to alert them. I use Systane for dry eye for years now and will check that out just in case it has Tetrahydrozohine and Hydrochloride! You are an amazingly educated person and I thank you for sharing all your knowledge with authors and writers. I always say that if we are accurate in our criminal and medical fiction, we may even save lives aside of entertainment reading.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: