Is This an End to Horrible Experiments on Animals’ Eyes?

The end of one kind of painful, blinding and lethal laboratory experiment on animals, the Draize test, may be at hand. A new technique to grow human corneal cells, developed by Japanese scientists, allows for more accurate results about the toxicity of chemicals to the human eye than those long-time favorite subjects of cosmetics company researchers, rabbits. And using the lab-grown human cells doesn’t involve any animals.

Thousands of rabbits are tortured every year in Draize tests; dogs and non-human primates are also popular subjects. Researchers lock animals’ necks in pillories (like the stocks for law-breakers in old town squares) that immobilize their heads and block them from reaching their eyes with their paws or arms. Next, researchers put a substance contained in personal care or household products in the animals’ eyes, one eye per subject (so the other eye can be used as a control), and check for changes every hour for up to three weeks. The next step is scoring damage to the animal’s cornea, conjunctiva and iris.

The scientists who developed the new testing material, which consists of human corneal cells grown on an ultrathin collagen sheet, say it is more effective than using the Draize test on live nonhuman animals. Researchers chose 30 substances for which Draize test results are already known and measured their effects on the corneal cells grown in the lab. The number of cells destroyed in the tests matched the Draize scores in 90 percent of trials. For the other 10 percent, the results predicted the substances’ effects on human eyes better than Draize tests on nonhumans did. Chemicals that had been declared non-toxic based on Draize tests were found to be harmful to people’s eyes when the human corneal cells were exposed to them.

This is far from the first clue that Draize tests on animals yielded unreliable results. Nature concluded that animal experiments like the 69-year-old Draize “are stuck in a time warp” and are “often poorly predictive.” The American Anti-Vivisection Society explains that Draize tests yield “highly unreliable safety data” for several reasons.

Obviously, nonhuman animals’ eyes and systems differ from humans’ in significant ways — for instance, rabbits produce fewer tears than humans, meaning that chemicals stay in their eyes longer and irritate them more than they would for humans. Also, the tests expose animals to much higher doses of chemicals, and administer them in different ways, than humans would encounter using products containing the chemicals.

Reuters reports that the lead investigator of the Japanese research team says the collagen sheet they developed can be used to cultivate and experiment on any kind of human cells, such as skin or internal organs. Maybe this discovery will spell the end to quite a few kinds of experiments on animals, like those assessing skin sensitivity.

The European Union has banned cosmetics companies from testing their products on animals, but in Japan and the United States, animals still suffer and die in Draize testing. Because some countries require animal testing, even products sold in the E.U. contain substances that have been tested on animals for sale in other places.

Photo credit: Abdillah Abi


Darryl Sawyer
Darryl Sawyerabout a year ago

I am glad that we can phase out these terrible experiments by doing what we should have tried before, although I wonder why a cadaver eye or eye from a recently butchered animal wouldn't be better considering you can call any slaughter house and order a bag of any part you need.

Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

Find out the real reason why "researchers" (who are not qualified to clean toilets much less do any job in a civilized society) torture animals.. the REAL reason is these "researchers" are CRIMINAL PSYCHOPATHS, who enjoy sadism and cruelty, and should be locked up in a maximum security cell forever, along with anyone else in their companies involved in Japan and the US. It doesn't surprise me that dirty unethical Japan is involved in vicious cruelty, that is all that depraved country is good at, destruction of the environment, pillaging and raping our oceans, poaching whales and wildlife and sadism on animals and pets.

Grace Kennedy
Grace Kennedy3 years ago

Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are like us." Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are not like us." Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction. Charles R. Magel

Alison A.
Alison A3 years ago

Peace also Esworth, although we are going to have to agree to disagree. I do not agree with animal testing and although you 'may' be able to prove that over the years there has been some breakthroughs, this article proves that there are better and much, much more accurate ways to go, but you should ask yourself these questions -

Has animal testing stopped us from finding out that there are other, more accurate testing methods sooner?

Should we have been spending every penny on finding alternative research rather than wasting billions on research that can't be used on humans?

Do we have a 'cure for cancer? Aids? Heart disease?

Might we have found one by now if we had been testing on 'fake' humans?

This article is just the beginning, we have the technology to expand and one day we will have the knowledge to test anything, anywhere on a fake human. THIS is what we should be spending our taxes on, not the torture of animals for very, very little success.

Animal testing must stop, it is barbaric, we are better than our ancestors, we should not use torture any more on anyone or anything.

Alison A.
Alison A3 years ago

I'm not sure why but my following post was deleted, so here it is again -

"I am glad that I have taught you so much about yourself Esworth.

BTW, my name is Alison, not Allison, so I will not be using your services to make the signs for my mind reading stall in the Circus."

I don't like censorship where it is not warranted, it is obvious I was just having a laugh.

Esworth L.
.3 years ago

Peace, Alison. I do not favor cruelty to animals. If there is a way to avoid harming them while also developing useful drugs and medical procedures, I'm for it. Here's a quote that I agree with:

Breast Cancer - According to the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, “This year, approximately 182,800 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and approximately 40,800 women will die from breast cancer.” Her son, actor Alec Baldwin, who serves on the advisory board of the Fund and received PETA’s Humanitarian Award in 2005, has broken with PETA over the value of animal research in developing treatments for breast cancer. In March 1998, he told USA Today “One cannot be ‘single issue’ when it comes to medical research.” He’s right. Animal research was essential for the development of Herceptin and Tamoxifen, two medicines that have saved the lives of thousands of women and men with breast cancer.

Esworth L.
.3 years ago

You are correct, Allison, when you say that Carol and I were not having a conversation. I didn't' say that either. I said we were talking about something else. I did not say we were talking to each other.

Esworth L.
.3 years ago

Gosh, Allison, I did not know that I believe that animals should suffer tremendous pain in order to benefit humans! Why has that been kept from me?

Plus you know that I was being facetious! Gosh, I foolishly thought that I was raising a valid point. Evidently not.

Here is a facetious idea, however. I suggest that you go into business as a mind reader at circuses, sitting at a table with a robe, a wand and so on. You have an enormous potential there.