Is it true that 10 ml of pure methanol can cause blindness?

Methanol is definitely something to avoid ingesting -in any quantity.

Methanol (wood alcohol) is a simple alcohol very closely related to ethanol, the intoxicating chemical in whiskey, beer, and wine. But methanol is extremely poisonous and toxic specifically to the nervous system. It is so toxic to the optic nerve that even small quantities can cause permanent blindness. But why would anybody drink it in the first place?

During the era of prohibition in the U.S., some people would distill their own "moonshine" illegally. Methanol was an occasional accidental distillation contaminant. There were several episodes of endemic blindness when the contaminated booze was distributed and consumed.

Even today, "denatured" alcohol is sold in hardware and drugstores. This product is actually ethanol made unfit for human consumption by the addition of some methanol. Of course, the purpose of this contamination is so that people will not buy it to use as a cheap intoxicant.

_Written by J. Trevor Woodhams, M.D. - Chief of Surgery, Woodhams Eye Clinic