In 1944, the Draize test was invented as a way to measure skin and eye irritancy of chemicals and other products. Specifically, this test involves dropping concentrated amounts of a test substance into an animal’s eye (while their lids are clipped open) or placing a chemical onto an area where the animal’s skin has been shaved. The resulting irritation, which may include ulceration, inflamed/bleeding skin, swollen eyes, and blindness, is subsequently measured on a numerical scale.
This test has been heavily criticized for shortfalls in predictability, reproducibility, and subjectivity. Although it is performed on a relatively small number of animals, the Draize test is considerably one of the cruelest test methods that individual animals are forced to endure. Victims of this test may be immobilized for up to 14 days, restrained from pawing at their eyes or skin to relieve discomfort and given no pain medication.
Numerous non-animal alternative tests for skin and eye irritation have been developed and validated. The tests include methods that are likely to be more predictive of human responses and are undeniably more efficient and humane.
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepts test results found from non-animal alternatives to the Draize test, companies have continued to utilize it at their discretion.