Posted by: juliegriffey | August 17, 2010

Top Five Most Disgusting Things Dr. Tom Saw in 40+ Years of Ophthalmology Practice

I was traveling again this week with my newly retired ophthalmologist father-in-law, Dr. Tom. He was reflecting on some of the more interesting cases (at my urging) in his 40+ years of practice. Hearing these stories inspired the top 5 list for the week.  Be warned: this is pretty gross.

Top 5 most disgusting things that my father-in-law, retired ophthalmologist, Dr. Tom, has seen in the eye.

1) Lice swinging from eyelash to eyelash. This he has seen several times. He says that it comes and goes in spurts but is a satisfying thing to see because it is very treatable. Satisfying, huh??

2) BBs in the eye. (That is BBs from a BB gun).  Yes – apparently – you can shoot your eye out.  Most of the time being shot in the eye by a BB gun results in the loss of an eye.  However, there was one case where Dr. Tom got the BB out of the back of the eye and the patient ended up only needing to wear a contact to achieve 20/20 vision. (Is my father-in-law a stud, or what?)
Another great story he told me was that  his father (my husband’s grandfather, Dr. Walter, who was also an ophthalmologist) saw a patient who had been out doing some archery and had shot an arrow up into the sky, and, yes – you guessed it – after admiring his shot, the arrow came back down – right into his eye.  I bet that hurt.

3) Herpes Simplex.  This virus is a cousin to shingles and a cousin to the herpes type 2 (the STD).  Dr. Tom says that this virus gets transferred to the eye via saliva of a person who carries the virus. (He added that this is why you don’t want politicians kissing your baby – ha ha).  I don’t know if this really qualifies as disgusting… I thought it sounded pretty gross, however, Dr. Tom says that it actually is pretty “beautiful.”   The virus looks like tree branches. When the eye is infected, the cornea is numb. There is no sensation there because the corneal nerves are inflamed and no longer functioning. It also classically reoccurs the same time each year.  Sometimes people are mistakenly treated with steroids which is a mistake because it causes the virus to multiply.

4) Recurrent corneal erosion. This classically occur when someone inadvertently sticks a camel hair mascara brush in the eye.  But they can also occur spontaneously.  While they don’t look particularly nasty, they can be nasty to deal with because they are recurrent and cause blurred vision and glare.

5) Blowout fracture of the orbit.  This is caused most frequently by “personal altercations” aka bar fights. When someone takes a hit to the eye, the orbital walls can break and the eye gets pushed out of it’s cavity.  Besides looking disgusting, it also can cause permanent double vision.

So there you have it.  I have not even finished this entry and have already heard tales of people taking a fork to the eye and other such delightful situations. If you are looking for more material to gross you out – check out a previous blog post about termites in the eyes… nasty!  Looking forward to hearing your stories….



  1. Great picture! Yes lice are disgusting, but fortunately there are many ways to get rid of both lice and their eggs.

  2. […] while back, I posted an entry about eye injuries.  My (retired) ophthalmologist father-in-law (Dr. Tom) talked about recurrent corneal erosion […]

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