In 1984 St. Martin’s Press published a book, entitled “Russian Doctor”, by the Russian emigre surgeon Dr. Vladimir Golyakhovsky. He described the death of a cosmonaut trainee in a pressure chamber fire. Half an entire chapter was devoted to the incident – and with authority – since, incredibly, Golyakhovsky (a specialized surgeon-traumatologist) had apparently been the emergency room doctor at the prestigious Botkin Hospital when the dying cosmonaut was brought in.
As Golyakhovsky remembered it, a severely burned man identified only as “Sergeyev, a 24-year-old Air Force Lieutenant,” was brought in by stretcher. “I couldn’t help shuddering,” Golyakhovsky recalled. “The whole of him was burnt. The body was totally denuded of skin, the head of hair; there were no eyes in the face. … It was a total burn of the severest degree. But the patient was alive…”
Golyakhovsky saw the man’s mouth moving and bent down to listen. “Too much pain – do something, please – to kill the pain” were the tortured words he could make out.
“Sergeyev” was scorched everywhere but the soles of his feet, where his flight boots had offered some protection from the flames. With great dimculty the doctors inserted intravenous lines into his feet (they couldn’t find blood vessels anywhere else) and administered painkillers and medication. “Unfortunately, Sergeyev was doomed,” Golyakhovsky remembered realizing immediately. “And yet, all of us were eager to do something, anything, to alleviate his terrible suffering.” The man lingered for sixteen hours before dying.
Claim: A man was blinded for life when his contact lenses fused to his eyes while he was barbecuing.
[Collected via Facebook, 2014]
A 21 year old girl had worn a pair of contact lenses during a barbecue party. While barbecuing she stared at the fire charcoals continuously for 2-3 minutes.
After a few minutes, She started to scream for help and moved rapidly, jumping up and down. No one in the party knew why she was doing this. Then she was admitted into the hospital, and the doctor said she’ll be blind permanently because of the contact lenses that she had worn.
Contact lenses are made by plastics, and the heat from the charcoal melted her contact lenses.
DO NOT WEAR CONTACT LENSES WHERE OVERHEATING and FLAMES are concerned or while COOKING!
An electrical worker, wearing contact lenses, throws a faulty switch. The result is an arc that generates microwaves, instantly drying up the fluid in his eyes and bonding the lenses to his corneas. The worker tries to take out the contacts, but the corneas come with them, and he is blinded for life.
A welder, also wearing contacts, opens his face shield and accidentally touches his welding rod to the metal he is working on. The result is a similar arc, with the same disastrous results.
[Collected on the Internet, 1994]
In my chemistry lab, we had to sign a form saying we won’t wear contact lenses in the lab. According to the lab professor, a student was wearing soft contact lenses and working with formaldehyde. He went home and took out his contact lenses because they were hurting his eyes. The formaldehyde had seeped in through the gas-porous lenses and glued them to his eyes. He ended up pulling out his cornea.
About six years ago when I was shopping for a sun lamp, the appliance salesman emphasized the reliable timer on one model. Then he recounted as a fact that a woman using a lesser product fell asleep and had her contact lenses fused to her eyeballs.
[Collected via e-mail, October 2009]
A 21 year old guy, he used to wear a pair of contact lenses, during a barbecue party. While barbecuing he stared at the fire charcoals continuously for 2-3 minutes. After a few minutes, he started to scream for help and moved rapidly, jumping up and down. No one in the party knew why he was doing this. Then he was admitted into the hospital, and the doctor said he’ll be blind permanently because of the contact lenses that he had worn. Contact lenses are made by plastics, and the heat from the charcoal melted his contact lenses. DO NOT WEAR CONTACT LENSES WHERE OVERHEATING AND FLAMES ARE CONCERNED … OR WHILE COOKING!
Origins: It’s a rare contact lens wearer who has never experienced at least a few fleeting moments of anxiety when removing his lenses. Fishing about in one’s eye after a
stubborn lens raises momentary concerns that maybe one of these days that little bit of technological wizardry will become well and truly stuck there, forever bonded to the eyeball. Thought is also given to the possibility that you might inadvertently pull out your cornea instead of the lens that sits upon it.
It’s those irrational fears these legends speak to; we worry that no matter how well the technology has worked for others, one of these days it’s going to fail for us and we will, in effect, pull our eyes out.
When held up to the light and examined, those anxieties seems pretty baseless. But fearful creatures that we are, we’re seldom content to leave well enough alone — we have apprehensions that need to be expressed, no matter how silly they are. Misgivings are thus aired through a series of contact lens mishap legends governed by seemingly plausible scenarios wherein one potentially could tear off one’s cornea. The “freak accident” element is introduced into the mix, or possibly the “dangerous chemical combination,” because these work to elevate what was impossible (yet feared) into the realm of the seemingly
For many, their first contact with the ‘hapless welder’ version of the scare came from a badly blurred photocopied memo warning against the dangers of engaging in welding while wearing contact lenses. Often this memo began with the headline “TWO RECENT INCIDENTS HAVE UNCOVERED A PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN PHENOMENON OF SERIOUS GRAVITY.” (Modern versions have replaced welding with barbecuing as the activity fraught with danger for contact wearers.)
There were no such incidents demonstrating a “previously unknown phenomenon of serious gravity” affecting those who welded or barbecued while wearing contact lenses, but the memo was often taken at face value, even by respected news outlets. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has traced those rumors back as far as 1967, when a worker for Bethlehem Steel and a welder for United Parcel Service were said to be the victims. Not only haven’t such accidents happened, nearly every reputable medical and industrial source in the field says they couldn’t happen.
Dr. Barry M. Weiner, a physician at the University of Maryland Hospital, responded to a local variant of the rumor: “It is a physical impossibility to dry up the fluid in your eyes. You’d have to stick your head in a blast furnace to do that. And removing your cornea would be like pulling off your ear.”
Yet there may be a grain of truth in the welder story anyway, even if it has been distorted almost beyond recognition. According to the sci.chem FAQ:
[A] Bethlehem Steel welder in Baltimore who, on the 26 July 1967, accidentally caused an arc flash that hit his hard contact lens. He waited until the next day to report eyesight problems, and an ophthalmologist found severe ulcerations on his cornea, but attributed the damage to the wearing of the hard lenses for 17-18 hours after the incident. The cornea healed completely in a few days, with no permanent vision loss, and investigators found no link between the damage and the arc flash, but the myth of the welder removing parts of the cornea with the lens, and consequently being permanently blinded, continues.
Unlike the legend, the worst of the man’s injury came from his not seeking treatment in a timely manner, not the horrific run-in with the arc. The fellow also made a complete recovery — a far cry from the “blinded for life!” element of the legend.
As for cautions against wearing contacts in a chemical lab environment, these have nothing to do with mysterious gasses bonding the lenses to the corneas (as suggested in one of the examples quoted above) but rather speak to the always-present danger of a chemical splash to the eyes. When such an accident occurs, it is imperative to rinse the substance from the eyes immediately. The presence of contact lenses will interfere with that, sometimes even trapping some of the chemical to the eye under the edge of the lens.
Although the case had nothing to do with contact lenses, in January 2014 the New England Journal of Medicine published a clinical report (“Ocular Manifestation of Electrical Burn”) on an incident in which a 42-year-old California electrician was left legally blind with star-shaped cataracts in his eyes after suffering burns from a 14,000-volt shock to his shoulder:
A 42-year-old male electrician presented to the eye clinic with decreasing vision 4 weeks after an electrical burn of 14,000 V to the left shoulder. His vision in both eyes was limited to perception of hand motions, with an intraocular pressure of 14 mm Hg in each eye. Slit-lamp examination showed bilateral stellate anterior subcapsular opacities of the lens. Dilated funduscopic examination showed scattered cotton-wool spots and bilateral optic-nerve pallor, which was greatest in the left eye. Four months after the injury, the patient underwent cataract extraction and implantation of an intraocular lens, which was followed by improvement in visual acuity to 20/70 in the right eye and 20/400 in the left eye. Two years after the injury, a retinal detachment developed in the left eye, and the patient underwent repair. At a 10-year follow-up visit, the patient’s visual acuity was 20/100 in the right eye, but in the left eye he could only count fingers. There was bilateral optic atrophy with widespread macular pigment disruption. Although the patient was legally blind, he was able to read with the use of low-vision aids and was able to independently commute on public transportation. When lenticular opacities are the sole manifestations of electrical injury, cataract extraction is expected to produce a functional outcome. However, with concurrent damage to the optic nerve and retina, complete visual rehabilitation may be limited.
Sometimes our fear of contact lenses is expressed in a more direct, less technological form:
A drunk staggered into a Pennsylvania ER complaining of severe pain while trying to remove his contact lenses. He said that they would come out halfway, but they always popped back in. A nurse tried to help using a suction pump, but without success. Finally, a doctor examined him and discovered that the man did not have his contact lenses in at all. He had been trying to rip out the membrane of his cornea.
Barbara “blind drunk” Mikkelson
|Safety Hazard Related to the Use of Contact Lenses (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)|
Last updated: 25 January 2014
- Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman.
- New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. ISBN 0-393-30321-7 (pp. 157-160).
- Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Mexican Pet.
- New York: W. W. Norton, 1986. ISBN 0-393-30542-2 (pp. 165-166).
- Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good to Be True.
- New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 402-404).
- de Vos, Gail. Tales, Rumors and Gossip.
- Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996. ISBN 1-56308-190-3 (p. 107).
- Morgan, Hal and Kerry Tucker. More Rumor!
- New York: Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN 0-14-009720-1 (pp. 190-192).
'Eye' Can't Look: 9 Eyeball Injuries That Will Make You Squirm
Injuries to eyeballs might make you want to squirm and cover your eyes, but these icky accidents and odd occurrences can also be illuminating.
Read on for a peek at some of the most interesting and unusual eyeball incidents that Live Science has covered over the years.
What one man in India thought was an odd shadow in his left eye turned out to be a live worm wriggling around.
Doctors were able to remove the slender worm, which they later identified as the parasite Loa loa, according to a report of the man's case, published in January 2016 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.
In the report, the critter was described as "a fairly long live worm moving around in a haphazard manner through the vitreous cavity," which is located toward the back of the eye, behind the lens and in front of the retina.
The man's job as a fruit vendor may have made him more susceptible to infection, as the parasite can be transmitted by fruit flies, the report said.
Split open and melt
A 61-year-old woman experienced a strange side effect of her rheumatoid arthritis: a condition called "corneal melt," according to a 2014 report of the woman's case published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The condition occurs when a person's immune system attacks the area of the eye next to the cornea, tearing the ocular tissue and allowing the iris, which sits behind the cornea, to "slip" out. (The cornea is the transparent layer of the eye that sits on top of the iris and the pupil.)
In the woman's case, both of her eyes were affected — a very rare occurrence, experts say.
Doctors can attempt to repair the eyes surgically, but that won't prevent the condition from happening again, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Doctors in China spotted an odd feature in a woman's eyes: a raised, rippled ring of tissue encircling the irises of both eyes.
The ring, called a "protruding iris collarette," isn't actually linked to any vision problems. Instead, it's a variation of a normally flat part of the eye called the iris collarette. In the woman's case, the doctors found that her eyes were healthy and her vision was normal, according to the report of the woman's case, published in March 2017 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Although the protruding features in this woman's case were particularly pronounced, the condition isn't as rare as it may seem, Dr. Andrea Thau, the former president of the American Optometric Association, who was not involved in the case report, told Live Science in March 2017. Generally, the raised ring of tissue isn't as prominent as the one seen in this case, Thau said.
Limited diet leads to boy's vision loss
A highly restrictive diet that was limited to potatoes, pork, lamb, apples, cucumbers and Cheerios led to an 11-year-old boy's severe vision loss, according to a report of the boy's case.
None of those foods is a good source of vitamin A, and indeed, when doctors tested the boy's blood to measure levels of the vitamin, they found that he was severely deficient in vitamin A, according to the report, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in October 2017.
Vitamin A is essential for vision because it helps certain cells in the eyes function properly. Without enough of the vitamin, a person can develop severely dry eyes and a buildup of material on the outer covering of the eyes. Vitamin A deficiency can also lead to problems in the retina, which is home to light-sensing cells that make vision possible.
To treat the vitamin deficiency, doctors gave the boy "megadoses" of vitamin A intravenously. The appearance of his eyes improved significantly, but his vision may be permanently damaged, according to the report.
A hairy situation
It's not uncommon to get an eyelash caught in your eye, but for your eyeball to grow a hair of its own — well, that's a lot rarer.
A case report published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 describes a 19-year-old Iranian man with a benign tumor on his right eye that sprouted several black hairs.
The man had the tumor, called a limbal dermoid, since birth, and it had gradually grown throughout his life. These rare tumors can contain tissue normally found in other parts of the body, such as hair follicles or sweat glands.
Though the tumors can lead to blurred vision, they usually don't cause dramatic vision problems because they don't cover the center of the eye. In the man's case, the tumor was surgically removed.
Flatworm wriggles through eye
Doctors in Mexico spotted a flatworm wriggling in and out of a teen's right eyeball, according to a report of the teen's case.
By the time the teen sought medical attention, the worm, which the doctors were able to identify as a type of trematode or "fluke," had caused serious damage: The teen's right cornea was swollen and speckled with blood, and there were multiple holes in his iris due to the worm's movements.
The doctors were able to surgically remove the worm — though not all in one piece, according to the report, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in September 2017. During the surgery, the doctors needed to remove the lens of the teen's eye, along with the vitreous humor, which is the fluid that fills the eyeball.
Six months after the surgery, the doctors noted that the teen's vision in his right eye had not improved.
A tourist taking a dip in the Red Sea caught more than a few waves when he went swimming; he also ended up with a fish jaw stuck in his eyelid.
During the man's swim, he collided with a school of fish, according to a report of the man's case, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2015. However, at the time, the man didn't realize that a fish jaw was left behind in his eyelid.
The man developed a swollen and droopy eyelid, which didn't go away, according to the report. When he went to the doctor, an imaging test revealed that he had an area of inflammation called a granuloma in his eyelid. But when the doctors operated to remove this inflammation, they were surprised to find "two transparent tubular structures."
Later, a biologist identified the structures as the jawbones of a halfbeak fish, a species that is commonly found in shallow and coastal waters.
A 32-year-old man temporarily lost vision in one of his eyes after an intense session of handstand push-ups, according to a report of the man's case, published in the journal BMJ Case Reports in 2014.
The man told doctors that he lost vision in his right eye about 6 hours after his workout, which included doing push-ups in a handstand position.
When the doctors examined the man's eye, they found a large hemorrhage, or heavy bleeding, in front of his retina, also with several other smaller sites of bleeding throughout the eye. These spots of blood obscured the man's vision.
The man was diagnosed with a condition called valsalva retinopathy, which refers to internal bleeding that occurs after people attempt to exhale while holding their mouths closed and pinching their noses shut. This leads to a sudden increase in chest pressure, which causes the tiny capillaries in the eye to rupture.
Airbags can save lives, but they can also leave behind some damage.
After a car accident, a 17-year-old in Michigan was left with an imprint of an airbag's canvas on her eyeballs; the airbag deployed before the teen could even blink, according to a report of the teen's case, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2014.
The teen went to the emergency room because she had pain and burning in her eyes. There, doctors used a special fluorescent dye that highlights scratches or tears on the cornea. The dye revealed an imprint of the nylon mesh pattern of the airbag cover in both eyes, according to the report. In addition to the imprints, the teen had a small tear in one of her eyes and some bleeding. However, all of the injuries healed in two weeks, the report said.
We May Finally Know Why Astronauts Get Deformed Eyeballs
Many astronauts returning to Earth after long-duration missions in space suffer from blurry vision that does not always get better. Now, after years of speculation and study, researchers believe they have finally isolated the cause: The liquid sloshing around the brain is building up in places it shouldn’t, squishing their eyeballs until they permanently flatten.
The condition is called visual impairment intracranial pressure, and it afflicts almost two-thirds of the astronauts who have spent extended periods of time aboard the International Space Station. (Also see "Astronauts' Fingernails Falling off Due to Glove Design.")
A Year in Space
Astronaut Scott Kelly is sent off into space for one year to test the impact of space travel on the human body.
NASA first identified the mysterious syndrome in 2005, when astronaut John Phillips’s vision went from 20/20 to 20/100 after six months in orbit. Extensive physical examinations revealed that the back of Phillips’s eyeballs had somehow gotten flatter, inflaming the optic nerve.
“People initially didn't know what to make of it, and by 2010 there was growing concern, as it became apparent that some of the astronauts had severe structural changes that were not fully reversible upon return to Earth,” Noam Alperin, the lead author of the study, says in a press statement.
NASA physicians knew that something was increasing pressure on the astronauts’ eyes, but they couldn’t quite pin down the cause. The leading theory was that it was somehow connected to the redistribution of vascular fluids (blood and lymph) in microgravity.
According to NASA, nearly 68 ounces of fluid—the equivalent of two large plastic bottles of soda—shifts from an astronaut's legs toward their head while in space. Scientists suspected that this fluid buildup increased pressure on the brain, ultimately affecting the eyes.
But a study of this phenomenon published last year only added to the mystery.
Researchers measured the vital signs of four people who flew aboard the so-called Vomit Comet—an aircraft that rapidly dips and climbs, simulating weightlessness for up to 25 seconds. The scientists were surprised to find that intracranial pressure actually dropped during the periods of zero gravity.
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Alperin, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at the University of Miami, says that the increased flow of vascular fluids to the head isn’t the problem. The true culprit is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which helps cushion the brain from changes in pressure when your body shifts position—such as standing up or lying down.
Space travel messes up that finely tuned system due to the lack of posture-related pressure changes while living in microgravity.
Alperin and his colleagues reached this conclusion by conducting high-resolution MRI scans on seven astronauts before and shortly after long-duration missions. They then compared those results with scans of nine astronauts who had flown on short space shuttle missions.
The researchers found that the seven astronauts who had spent months in orbit had considerably higher volumes of CSF within the skull cavities that hold the eyes. This increased the pressure on the back of the astronaut’s eyeballs, causing them to flatten and leading to increased protrusion of the optic nerve.
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Magnetic resonance imaging of astronaut eyes showed flattening of the eyeballs after long-duration spaceflight.
The study also helps explain the earlier, puzzling results from the Vomit Comet. Although the volume of cerebrospinal fluid increases in certain areas, the brain itself doesn’t swell in size, which would be a cause of intracranial pressure.
While it’s good news that NASA might finally have the answer to what causes this syndrome, the bad news is that there aren’t any apparent countermeasures. If the damage to the eyes had been caused by shifting vascular fluids, then astronauts could have treated it by wearing devices under development that might be able to reverse the flow of fluids back toward the legs.
For now, deformed eyeballs are just one more ailment that may be solved only by engineers working to develop effective artificial gravity.
Real melted eyeballs
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And he wants to get enough of it. I look into them, even when I finish. I give him this orgasm. He continues to caress, but now it is softer, licks, gently bites and kisses the skin on the thighs.
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