Eye Doctors Share the Craziest Things They’ve Ever Seen

When you visit your eye doctor, it’s probably for something simple, like your vision is a little impaired or you need a renewal of your contact lens prescription. But, like all doctors, optometrists and ophthalmologists also deal with quite risky cases. “You’d be surprised at what I saw,” says Alan Mendelsohn, MD, an ophthalmologist based in Hollywood, Florida, with Eye Surgeons & Consultants.

With that in mind, we asked eye doctors to talk about the craziest situations they’ve ever seen and how they solved them. Keep these on the back burner the next time you’re annoyed that your eye doctor is late due to an emergency:

Christine Frapech

“A patient over 60 with glaucoma presented to the emergency room with sudden and unexplained blindness. Turns out she mixed her glaucoma drops with cyanoacrylate, an extremely fast and extremely effective adhesive. The glaucoma eye drop bottle and the adhesive bottle are very similar and she was working on building models and inadvertently stuck her eyelids shut. The adhesive, it turns out, worked wonders on human tissue, causing the upper and lower eyelids to seal tightly, with the eyeball below being totally immobile. Using topical anesthetic and extremely sharp micro surgical scissors, I separated her eyelids. Afterwards, with lots of numbing drops, Q-tips, rounded forceps and light pressure, I was able to free the eyeball and remove the residual glue. Each eye took at least 30 minutes and her vision was restored. —Mendelsohn

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optometrist stories

Christine Frapech

“I did my eye surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a major trauma center in the heart of the city’s most violent neighborhoods. Every night was an adventure, man’s inhumanity to man manifesting in the form of all manner of wounds. After my first year, I stopped asking patients how they got their injuries and just marveled at the human body’s ability to survive. One night, a guy showed up in the ER with an ice pick in his eyeball. As he could not afford an ambulance, he went to the emergency room on a motorbike. He apologized for not wearing a helmet for obvious reasons. —John Hovanesian, MD, eye surgeon at Harvard Eye Associates in Laguna Hills, Calif., and clinical teaching faculty member at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute

Find out what you MUST do the next time you go to the doctor:

optometrist stories

Christine Frapech

“A few years ago, when I was doing a fellowship in Miami, ophthalmology residents in the emergency room saw a patient who came in for a white patch on the surface of his eye. The first-year resident examining him was puzzled as to what the lesion might be, so he called other first-year residents to take a look. They were all kind of confused, so they called their senior resident to come take a look. The senior member saw the patient, then grabbed a cotton-tipped applicator and removed the ‘lesion’…it was a kernel of popcorn!” —Alberto Distefano, MD, fellow in oculoplasty at Yale School of Medicine.

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optometrist stories

Christine Frapech

“A few years ago I had a patient who came to me with decreased vision and a little pain in one eye. The patient was working on his car using a metal grinder, which is used to remove rust from the chassis of the car. He thought something had hit him, but wasn’t sure – he had poor vision and could only see a hand moving in front of his face. turns out a spike had flown from the metal grinder, punctured his cornea and was sitting in the middle of his eyeball. It was an inch long, which is the length of the eye. Luckily, it didn’t touch not his retina, but he needed emergency surgery to remove this very large foreign body from his eyeball, which involved removing the lens and jelly from the back of the eye. operation and another operation a few months later, he ended up seeing 20/30 uncorrected.Jonathan Criss, MD, comprehensive ophthalmologist at Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute

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optometrist stories

Christine Frapech

“Two years ago an older lady came to my clinic with complaints of foreign body sensation, discharge and redness. There was a history of multiple visits in the past to many ophthalmologists and use of many eye drops without any relief. On examination I found a bent contact lens in the upper fornix of her right eye. I removed this contact lens. Later the patient said that ‘she had had eye problems 20 years ago while visiting her son in Australia.The ophthalmologist had placed a contact lens in her eye and asked her to return after a month, but the patient has missed the visit and forgot that contact lens. This same lens had been in her eye for 20 years and it was irritating her. During her one week follow-up visit with me, she was very relaxed and said that she had a good sleep, because all these years she couldn’t sleeping well due to irritation caused by her contact lenses. —Vaibhev Mittal, DOMS, Comprehensive Ophthalmology Fellow at iCliniiq

RELATED: 5 unexpected things that can make you blind

optometrist stories

Christine Frapech

“A patient of mine came to tell us about how her son, a middle schooler, was having trouble concentrating in school. He had been seen by a therapist who was testing him for ADD but recommended having his eyes tested. He was already my patient and wore glasses. I retested his vision and there was no change. But when we checked his glasses, the problem immediately became apparent. The lenses were placed in the frame at 90 degrees out axis. His mother had purchased the glasses during a “buy one” optical special with a reputation among professionals for poor quality. After his lenses were corrected, his focus problem at school was no longer a problem. A buy-one-get-one special is not always a bargain.” —Mendelsohn

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