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Blind Faith Revisted   Back Bookmark and Share

Author : Blake John

Sir - In a previous article1 I drew attention to the risks arising from the common practice of putting holy water into the eyes of patients before or after ocular surgery. Since then a number of serious infections from this source have been reported to me by colleagues. In one case holy water was put in the eyes of a patient prior to cataract surgery. Intraocular infection was detected on the morning after the operation and the sight was saved only by intensive use of antibiotic therapy. In another, blessed water was put in the eyes of a patient shortly after cataract extraction: an abscess formed within the eye causing total irreversible loss of sight. The pathogen in pus aspirated from the vitreous cavity was found also in the holy water. 

Patients should be warned to refrain from putting non-sterile water on open wounds, including surgical incisions, and from sprinkling such water on immuno-suppressed and critically ill patients.2

John Blake,
Dept of Ophthalmology,
University College Dublin,
Dublin 4.


  1. Blind faith? A cause of pre-operative eye infection. Irish Medical Journal 1996;89(1):57. 
  2. Holy Spirit? Unusual cause of pseudomonal infection in multiply injured patient. Greaves J, Porter KM. BMJ 1992:305:1578.
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