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10 - 12 February 2017, MECC Maastricht,The Netherlands.

This Meeting has been awarded 15 CME credits.


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Eyes speak a million more words than our mouth: kohl – cosmetic, protection against the evil, ophthalmic therapy or simply toxic?

Poster Details

First Author: S. Scholtz GERMANY

Co Author(s): M. Attia   L. MacMorris   T. Tandogan   F. Krogmann   G. Auffarth   M. Shafik     

Abstract Details


Kohl might be only as a cosmetic product today but in ancient times it was considered to have magical powers. In fact, this deceptively simple beauty product may be one of the most ancient known ophthalmoloical therapeutics.


[1] International Vision Correction Research Centre (IVCRC), Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Heidelberg, Germany [2] University of Alexandria, Egypt


Selective literature research of books and journal articles via PubMed, Google and Scholar.


Kohl was generously applied on the skin around the eyes. It served multiple roles in antiquity (e.g. veneration of the deities, satisfying religious obligations and beautifying desires). As for its therapeutic effect, it's cooling quality it was used to reduce sun´s glare and it was a fly repellent. Kohl is mainly composed of the dark mineral Galena (lead sulfite, PbS). Its antibacterial effect is based on its content of high levels of lead. Prolonged application of Kohl, especially in children, can result in excessive lead storage in the body which would affect bone marrow and the brain.


Since the Bronze Age, Kohl was used world-wide for cultural, social and hygienic purposes. Now it is available in several forms: liquid eyeliner, pencils, paste or powder. Today its high content of lead and heavy metals demands strict regulations in its manufacture to ensure a safe product. Enhancing one´s beauty with dramatic eye make-up reminds one that Cleopatra´s beauty secret was not Maybelline but lead sulfate.

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