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Poppers made me lose my vision

A condition called Poppers Maculopathy is a very real danger

  • Words: Anonymous | Illustration: Alex Jenkins
  • 25 May 2016
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Poppers Maculopathy first started to crop up among the gay community in the late 2000s. In 2006, a piece of legislation meant poppers switched from being made of isobutyl nitrite (a suspected carcinogen) to isopropyl nitrite. The move was well intentioned, but according to research in a medical journal, The Lancet, the new chemical appears to damage the cells of the macula.

The governmentrecently tried to ban poppers under the Psychoactive Substance Act, but they won a last-minute reprieve and they’restill available for sale. Poppers have a whole host of other dangers associated with them, from lowering blood pressure and discolouring skin, all the way through to death. But, like many legal highs, their dangers are unrecognised because they are freely available to buy.

A few weeks on and my vision has improved, but it’s not perfect. I found others in online forums whose vision was still severely damaged, six months after it had first appeared. It seems that chronic use causes the most significant damage, but Poppers Maculopathy can occur after a single use. I certainly won’t be touching them again, and risking any further damage to my eyes.

The author is a freelance journalist but has chosen to remain anonymous

Alex Jenkins is a freelance illustrator based in London. Follow him on Instagram here

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