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Keywords:

  • blindness;
  • methanol;
  • poisoning;
  • visual disturbance

Abstract

Methanol poisoning has become very uncommon in Australasia with regulations that have reduced its retail availability. This report describes a young tourist who developed sudden onset visual failure and rapid breathing 2 days after ingestion of a complimentary local drink called Arrack when travelling in Indonesia. She presented to a hospital in New Zealand with severe metabolic acidosis and a highly toxic methanol level at 17 mmol/L. The cocktail was consumed at a popular tourist bar but is likely to have been mixed from home-brewed or ‘moonshine’ alcohol tainted with methanol. The aetiology of methanol poisoning, its optic toxicology and therapeutic measures are discussed, as is the concerning number of methanol poisoning cases among tourists to Indonesia over recent years.