The marketing mania which surrounds us has caused products to often be overwhelmed by packaging. Despite my safety glasses, I recently got a small piece of metal in my eye. No damage, but the doctor who found it recommended that I use eye drops for a few days. Since we didn’t seem to have any at home, and since my wife was going to the grocery store, I asked her to pick up some. I expected the usual small bottle with stopper over drip end, but instead I received a 2 inch by 3 inch by 4-1/2 inch box, containing six complicated plastic moldings, each of which could be torn into four pieces, each piece containing a small amount of a fluid – must have been eye drops. The box served the usual marketing purposes, pointing out that they were “high performance” (zero to sixty in four seconds?), and provided extended protection, fast symptom relief, and contain no preservatives. Also that they were the “#1 doctor recommended brand”, and that they “elevate the science of dry eye therapy to a new level”. And furthermore being markedly larger than the usual small bottles, and therefore being highly visible, they showed up on the counter and were able to contain a good bit of advertising.
And, the instructions as to how you tear the plastic moldings apart and drop the liquid in your eye included a warning that after putting one or two drops in the eye, one should throw away the container and definitely not try to use the remaining fluid—convenient for the seller of the eye drop fluid. It would mean that the box of beautifully molded parts would only deliver two dozen doses.
I was dazzled by the tooling necessary to form the moldings with the fluid inside of them, and entertained by the attempt to promote eye drops to a more sophisticated medical product. My grandfather was a blacksmith and farmer before the age of safety glasses, and was often getting foreign bodies in his eye. My grandmother made him eye drops. As I remember, a cup of water, a partial spoon of salt, a pinch of baking soda, and a couple of drops of glycerine, boiled for a few minutes, and returned to room temperature, and voila—eye drops. Undoubtedly the modern ones are manufactured with great precision in a sterile environment, but come on, the science of dry eye therapy?
The photo shows the eye drops in contrast to a traditional small bottle. The “kit” and the small bottle cost approximately the same, but the bottle contains much more fluid, and does not try to tell me I can’t reuse it. The process of dropping the fluid in the eye is the same in both cases, so I don’t see any gain in convenience, and I would have to throw away all those nice plastic moldings (undoubtedly getting the unused fluid on the floor). So I will happily stick to the traditional bottle, knowing I can get lots more drops for a buck and that I can feel good about not succumbing to marketing people trying to sell me another new “innovation”.