While you’re rhyming off chart letters like a boss, your doc is making sure nothing is awry with your eyes
“I’d never seen that much gunk come out of an eyelid before."
We're all guilty of ghosting our eye health from time to time—forgetting our sunglasses on a super-sunny day, sleeeping in our contacts, or skipping our annual checkups for, oh, five years or so.
But if that last one sounds like you, get yourself to the optometrist, stat. Because while you’re rhyming off chart letters like a boss, your doc is making sure nothing is awry with your eyes. In the case of these patients, something was very, very wrong. And you don’t want to end up like them.
"A mom brought her 7-year-old daughter in for an eye exam, saying her daughter was constantly rubbing her eyes during the day and waking up with 'gook' sticking her eyelids together. While examining her up close at the slit lamp, I was shocked to see tiny insects along her lashes—lice! They'd been living off of this poor little girl's lashes for who knows how long. I had to remove each one with my tiny instruments, and thankfully the girl sat still for the whole process. I was itchy for days!" —Annie Negrin, M.D.
"A patient came in with a big bump on the outside of his eyelid. It was so large that he had trouble keeping his eye open. I put him behind the microscope and used a cotton tip to push on the lid, and with barely any pressure a ton of pus began to drain out. I kept pushing and managed to get his lid almost back down to normal size, but I'd never seen that much gunk come out of an eyelid before!" —Shannon Gleason, O.D.
"A woman kept bringing her lenses back every few weeks because they were badly crazed [cracked]. When I finally questioned her about it, she assured me that she never used chemicals to clean them, just a gentle dishwashing liquid—only later did I find out that she was actually putting them in the dishwasher." —Anonymous
"One of my patients called me, upset that she suddenly couldn't see properly out of both eyes. (She had such a strong prescription that she could only see well with hard contact lenses.) When she came in for her evaluation, I immediately knew what was wrong. I removed both her contacts and went into another room for a few minutes. When I returned, I reinserted her lenses and showed her the eye chart. She was thrilled that her vision was restored, and asked what I did to make it happen. It turned out that she had inadvertently mixed up her right and left contact lenses—all I did was place them in the correct eyes." —Barry Kay, O.D.
"A male patient arrived at my office in severe pain: His 3-year-old had poked him in the eye, and he was experiencing excessive tearing, blurry vision, and was unable to open his eye because of the pain. During the examination, I discovered that most of his cornea (which is on the front surface of the eye) was dangling out of his eye, and attached by only a two milimeter portion. (He had LASIK five years ago, making his corneas more at risk for injury.) Had it not been attached, it would have potentially caused blindness. I carefully closed his eyelids while flipping the cornea back into position, bandaged the injury with an eye patch, and immediately sent him to a cornea specialist for surgery. Fortunately, the surgeon was able to reattach his cornea and the patient's vision was saved." —Monica Nguyen, O.D.
"A female patient I'd been treating for years came in complaining of pain and redness in one eye. While examining her, I found no reason for the redness until I flipped her eyelid and looked underneath. She had a piece of her fake (acrylic) nail embedded deep under her upper eyelid! From the look of it, the piece of nail must have been there for weeks because I literally had to dig it out." —Annie Negrin, M.D.
"A teenage girl showed up with a corneal ulcer on her right eye. The eye was very infected with a lot of pus on the surface. She wore contacts for many years, and when asked about her lens-wearing habits and cleaning regimen, nothing came up as unusual—until she asked to put her lenses back in so she could leave. She popped the contact lens into her mouth to moisten it, then put it into her good eye. Mystery solved.” —Robert Noecker, M.D.
“A patient showed up complaining of right eye pain. He had scratches on the cornea and appeared to have little hairs stuck in the inside of his eyelid that were very difficult to remove and had to be scraped off. We couldn't figure out what the cause was, but after talking to him a little, we discovered he had been handling his brother's pet tarantula without permission. It turns out that if a tarantula gets mad, they shoot little hairs off their back at the threat—in this case, the boy's eye.” —Robert Noecker, M.D.