Monday, July 19, 2010

Medical Mondays: An Eye for an Eye


This week's question comes from Theresa Milstein.

I'm writing about a thirteen-year-old who loses her eye when it gets poked by a scissor. If none of the surrounding bones are damaged, what would happen at the hospital afterwards? Would she need to wait to get a glass eye? If so, for how long? How would she care for her eye both without and with a glass eye?

If the eye suffers enough trauma that it's not salvageable, then the character would need surgery to have the eye removed (it's called enucleation). Her eye would be packed with a dressing, she could take tylenol for pain, and might be given some antibiotics to take. Her eyelids will be puffy and bruised. In six days, the dressing would be removed from inside the eye socket. At that time, if the swelling is down, she'd be given topical antibiotics to use.

Within 2-6 weeks of surgery, she would go for a fitting of a prosthetic eye. After a final fitting she'd be set to go with her new eye. The eye willl need to be cleaned daily with soap and water, and be polished every few months. The socket requires very little care, from what I've read.

There is a newer type of prosthetic eye that is quite different. With the above prosthesis, it won't move or look around like a normal eye does. (People with the traditional type of prosthetic often learn to move their heads to look at extreme angles, in order to keep both eyes parallel and normal in appearance.) The newest kind is an orbital implant. (image from Bio-Eye)They take an eyeball-sized piece of material made of a bioprosthetic material similar to bone. It's placed in the eye socket at the time of surgery and the muscles for eye movement are sutured to it. After about 4 weeks, the body grows tissue over this prosthetic, and then a removable sliver of a plastic prosthesis (that looks like the white of the eye and the iris) is attached to the implant. So the person can look all around like a normal eye. Of course the person can't truly see, though. The plastic layer has to be removed once in a while to be cleaned (2-3 x per week, and polished every few months).

As I was writing this post, I came across something called Phantom Eye. I posted once about phantom pain, in which a person feels sensations in the place of a lost limb. Occasionally, after the loss of an eye, patient will sometimes have visual hallucinations (usually fuzzy shapes and colors) and eye pain.

I can't help but think how a lost eye could be a great idea for a Sci-Fi plot. Imagine a lost eye that can see beyond your world! But then I remembered that this was kinda of covered in Toy Story 3, with Mrs. Potato Head's all-seeing eye she left in Andy's room.

Oh well. Those Pixar people are so darned clever.

Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice!

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at


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Also, don't forget to check out Mental Health Mondays at Laura's Blog!

45 comments:

Vicki Rocho said...

sorry, got the heebie jeebies at just the thought of losing an eye. i'm so weirded out by eye things i could never wear contacts.

Justine Dell said...

I'm always smarter on Mondays...just because of your blog. Thanks! Although I don't think I'll be using this topic in any of books soon. It's always good information to know. ;-)

~JD

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Fascinating! I'd always wondered about that.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Excellent post. I don't know if I'll ever use the information, but knowledge is always good. =o)

Mason Canyon said...

It's amazing what can be done now. Interesting information.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Matthew Rush said...

That is really interesting. So many strange and wonderful (or disturbing) story ideas could come from this.

Abby said...

This is so cool and creepy at the same time. I don't think I've ever seen anyone with a glass eye, though I remember in Pirates of the Caribbean there was a character whose wooden eye kept on popping out of his head.

Rena said...

Wow -- fascinating!

aspiring_x said...

the things the bio-medical engineers come up with! that new prosethetic eye! wow!
i've always been curious about this, and never known much at all about it.

Candyland said...

Ugh! What a difficult post to read!!! I hate things about eyes!!!

Joanne said...

Fascinating info here. It's amazing how a writer can really take a story in different and new directions, based solely on a physical condition.

Carol Kilgore said...

Wow. This is amazing. Thanks for the question and fantastic answers.

Bee said...

You're the coolest doc!

Alesa Warcan said...

There's not shortage of stories that use the transplant or the missing eye device. Ranging from the greek Graeae who shared an eye, Odin's sacrificing of one eye to gain the wisdom of the world, folk tales surrounding Yagyu Jubei who's lost eye could see the spirit world, horror movies like the Hong Kong classic "The eye" (a girl gets a transplant that sees discontented ghosts) and many others that use the same device. : j

Those Hydroxyapatite implants are cool! I had never heard of them...

Have you heard of Tanya Vlach, an artist who is putting a camera in her implant (http://tanyavlach.wordpress.com/), or of Rob Spense the filmmaker who is doing the same (http://www.eyeborgblog.com/)?

Lydia Kang said...

Hey guys! For all the eye-squeamish people, thanks for reading through the post.

And if you have time, Alexa pointed out some amazing blogs about people actually attempting to put cameras inside their prosthetic eyes. Cyborg time!

To add to Alesa's list, there is, of course (must have a Harry Potter reference almost every week!) Mad-Eye Moody. JK Rowling is ridiculous. She's always stealing the thunder from my blog posts!

Faith said...

Wow! Fascinating... that would make a good sci-fi novel, though, Toy Story 3 aside. Huh. Who knew medical advances for eyes had come so far!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Another amazing post! I think losing an eye is a big fear for most folks. I'd almost rather wear a patch, but I'm secretly a pirate.

Theresa Milstein said...

Lydia, thank you so much for your thorough answer of my eye question. Now I know how to proceed in chapter 3.

It looks like the beginning of my manuscript will freak out lots of people. Everyone fears losing an eye.

Mayowa said...

Talk about putting a character through pain eh?

Great post as usual Lydia!

Melissa Sarno said...

ahh! I get so squirmy just reading about eye problems. iiiick.

Tahereh said...

omg so interesting!!

Nicole Murray said...

No present questions on eyes but I did grab your little button do hicky and stuck it on my blog. This is just a lovely resource to a fiction chick or chap. Thank you.

Krispy said...

Eek, just reading what they have to do to patch that up gave me the shivers.

Good question and very interesting answer though! This info could come in handy. :)

Jolene said...

Crazy interesting... like every Monday!

Liza said...

Just by reading this I imnagined the eye implant with special qualities...the ability to see through things, or to see someone's thoughts. Fun. Thanks Lydia.

Terri Tiffany said...

Thanks again for some great information. Don't like the thought of losing an eye but good to know there are advances out there.

Jen said...

Great information but I'm not exactly fond of the thought of losing and eye... I'd like to keep both of mine please, lol.

Aubrie said...

What an interesting post! I've often wondered about fake eyes. It reminds me of the pirate in POTC who always loses his glass eye!

Nice Miss Potato Head reference!

Sandy Shin said...

Just reading this makes me shiver -- I think losing an eye is a really big fear. Thanks for this illuminating post! :)

Alexis Hallum said...

My Uncle lost his eye as a little boy and has a glass eye, you can hardly tell.
Lydia, thank you so very much for you kind comment on my last post. I apprecite the encouragement. :)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Great post, as always, Lydia!

One of my early memories from school was when a little boy in the playground lost his eye. It was a glass eye and it fell in the gutter. It freaked everyone out. The playground monitor-teacher-person came out of the gate carrying the glass eye. We all screamed and ran away. Poor kid. He didn't seem too bothered by it, though!

Amy

Talei said...

See - now if I hadn't checked in I would never have found this medical term 'enucleation'...I like the way it rolls off the tongue. Okay is that wierd? Now, I'm also curious about how the 13yr old got scissors in her eyes...Theresa? :0

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

Amazing- SO informative- I am glad I found your blog-

My husband is an M.D. and I'm the writer-

Really lovely to 'meet' you.

Jai Joshi said...

My goodness, this is fascinating!

Jai

Rachna Chhabria said...

Lydia..very interesting post, but it scared me. I have heard of people having glass eyes after their eyes have been damaged
This post made me recollect Mad Eye Moody from Harry Potter books.

Heather said...

Ick. Fascinating! But ick. LOL! I had severe damage to my right orbital bone once and so this hits close to home for me.

Munk said...

The Bio-eye is pretty cool. I always try to keep my eyes peeled for new revenue streams. I see a whole market out there for high end eye-polish -- *wink*

Munk

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Lydia--You won a random prize in my random question/prize blog party! Please email me your address... skmayh at q dot com

Phoenix said...

I can see it now (no pun intended): the next Sy-Fy Channel movie (ugh, how I loathe their new stupid spelling) would be SHARKTOPUS (actual Sy-Fy original movie): The Phantom Eye!!!

There were a lot of parentheses in that sentence, weren't there.

WritingNut said...

Very interesting and it has officially given me goosebumps. I always get so nervous hearing about eye injuries.

VR Barkowski said...

OMG, fascinating and chilling! My brother in law's younger brother lost his eye. He was poked with a stick when he was around eight or nine. I don't know any other details - could never bear to listen. But had no one told me, I never would have noticed his prosthetic eye.

Indigo said...

Interesting post! I can grasp the concept of visual hallucinations as I suffer from auditory hallucinations from time to time. Auditory hallucinations are more likely to be experienced in late deafened individuals who carry the memory of sound. (Hugs)Indigo

DEZMOND said...

now, this was an extremely interesting post, Lyds ;)

rama said...

Hi,
I am Rama from India. Your post is very interesting, and an eye opener. Though, such procedures seem scary, it is good to know about them.
Doctors seem to be so immune to such things, as it is a part of their life, but for people outside the medical line, these things seem so scary and weird.
If for a change you feel like coming out of your routine job, and take a break, then come and visit my space.
Rama.

Cherie Reich said...

Hehe, I was doing research on prosthetic eyes for my NaNoWriMo book and came across this. Great post. :D

 
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