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Invited Commentary
October 29, 2020

Pepper Spray, Tear Gas, and Rubber Bullets: A Witches’ Brew of Toil and Trouble

Author Affiliations
  • 1Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020;138(12):1319-1320. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.4421

Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene i

Bloom and Bloom1 take on a topical matter: eye injuries related to protests and civil unrest. They focus on publicly available data regarding a witches’ brew of chemical irritants, such as pepper spray and tear gas, and kinetic impact projectiles, such as rubber and plastic bullets, all used by US law enforcement agencies to quell crowds deemed dangerous. The list may remind some of the hell broth of Macbeth’s witches, a recipe for powerful toil and trouble.

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