"Watch your eyes!" It's something you likely heard your mother say over and over again growing up, but a new case report shows just how prone to injuries your peepers can be—and why you (and those around you!) should watch out for them at all times.
The report, published in November in BMJ Case Reports, shares the story of an unnamed 13-year-old girl in the UK, who got a piece of lead lodged in her eye after one of her classmates threw a pencil at her. The incident nearly left her blind, per the report.
"At first I had not realized what had happened until my friend said 'I think you have something in your eye,'” the girl explained about the incident, per the report. "A part of the pencil had gone into my eye which must have happened so quickly as I had not really felt anything.” The pencil lead impaled the girl's limbus, or where the eye's cornea (the clear, outer covering) meets the sclera (aka, the white portion of the eye)
She was then rushed to the hospital, where doctors worked to remove both lead fragments from her eye. One of the pieces of the pencil was dangerously close (“just millimeters”) away from her retina, which could have resulted in “instant blindness.”
Following the surgery, the girl struggled to look directly into light. “After the operation I could not see much out of my left eye at all but gradually my sight seemed to improve,” she added, per the report. Three years later her vision has fully recovered and she is pain-free. “I know how lucky I was," she attests. "I still have a few stitches in the back of my eye and also at the front but they do not affect me in any way. I will be starting driving lessons in the next couple of weeks which I am really looking forward to."
The report warns of the dangers of throwing such objects, pointing out that “one in six of ocular perforation injury in children occurs when an object is thrown.” It adds that "if acquired vision loss from trauma in childhood is severe, it may cause life-changing differences to a child's education and future employment prospects."
So maybe next time when you need to give someone a writing device who is sitting across the room, get off your butt and walk it over to them—you know, for the sake of their vision.
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