How I Broke My Eyeball

I should probably tell you right now that this story is going to be a little bit gross. If you have eyes, and I assume you do, the odds are fairly high that you are going to squinch them shut quite suddenly while reading it, not unlike a man who flinches and subconsciously reaches protectively for his testicles whenever he stumbles across the word "castration." This story has to do with eyes you see, my eyes in particular, and people have sort of a thing about eyes. I have less of a thing about eyes than most---willingly sticking your finger into them twice a day to add and remove contacts will do that, I guess---so it's only fair that I warn you, here and now, that maybe you don't want to be eating that bunch of grapes while you read this. Or that bowl of cherry tomatoes.

So on Thursday night, I took my contact lenses out while getting ready for bed. Nothing unusual there, but almost immediately after removing the right one, I felt like I had something in my eye. I blinked and blinked, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and still......ow. It felt like a speck of dust or a fleck of mascara and so I flushed and flushed and flushed my eye with cold water, periodically peeking up from the faucet to see if the feeling had gone. It didn't go. I flushed some more, flushed for a good twenty minutes probably, and then I consulted Google to see if flushing was actually the right thing to do. It was. So I flushed some more.

Nothing was happening. My eye was now killing me. You know how it is when you've got something stuck in your eye? It feels like a golf ball lodged in there, and half the pain comes from the panic that you can't get it out. Maybe I need to cry, I thought, flush it out the natural way.  So I got into bed, tipped my head back, and tried putting a few drops of those fake tears in my eye. Then I tried thinking of something really sad. "Want to me to give you a Chinese burn?" asked Sean, helpfully. "I bet that'll make you cry."

I declined. I put some more drops in. The feeling persisted. "What the hell do I do?" I asked Sean. "Go to the emergency room?" I thought about walking into the emergency room, past the people with the broken legs and the bloody noses, crying to the receptionist that I had something in my eye. I decided not to go to the emergency room. I decided to try and go to sleep instead. All night, I dreamed that something was in my eye, waking up periodically to discover that yep, what do you know, there still was.

In the morning, nothing had changed. What the hell? I thought. I must have some sort of unsinkable BATTLESHIP in my eye. I consulted Dr. Google. Then I consulted his associate, Dr. Twitter. If you've ever wondered whether there's anything more medically unreliable than consulting Dr. Google, I'm here to tell you that yes, consulting Dr. Twitter is that thing. "Eh, you probably got whatever it was out and now it's just scratched," said Dr. Twitter. "Keep flushing with water, wear your glasses, and it'll heal on its own."

Awesome, I thought. But then Dr. Twitter changed his mind. "OH MY GOD, GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW," he bellowed. "THIS SAME THING HAPPENED TO MY FRIEND AND NOW SHE'S BLIND."

It went on like that for an hour or so, half of Twitter all laissez-faire and unconcerned, the other half gloomily predicting my imminent loss of sight.

I wonder if I should go to the eye doctor, I thought. And then: But I don't have an eye doctor.

I did a half-hearted search on Yelp and found one a few blocks from me. She had fifteen 5-star ratings. Good enough for me, I thought. I picked up my phone. I set it back down again. How much will this cost? I thought. Eh, I don't need to go. I'm sure it'll be fine. My eye bugged me all afternoon. I blinked. I flushed. I tried to ignore it.

At three o'clock, my vision started to go blurry. You know, I thought, standing up. I think I will now make an executive decision not to go blind.

There are some things you don't mess around with, I have since decided. Eyes are one. Hearts are another. Your finger hurts? Eh, sure, wait it out. Your eye? Don't take any chances. Don't be a hero.

I called the doctor, who was incredibly kind, and said she could take a look if I dropped by at 5:30pm, when the office closed. I showed up at 5:30pm, convinced I would be laughed out of town for hypochondria, and was taken into the back, where questions were asked, my eye was examined, and the doctor, very matter-of-factedly, proclaimed "Yep, I can see something. I can definitely see something. A very large something, in fact."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Well," she said, from behind the enormous machine she was currently using to peer into my brain. "Let's talk about it."

Internet, you know when your skin gets really, really dry? Like, so dry that it starts to blister and crack? My eyeball was that dry. My eyeball had been that dry for a long time, in fact---for several weeks, actually---and my contact lens was plastered to it. PLASTERED. So when I pulled my contact lens out of that eye---that dry, dry eye with all those blistery bits of dry eyeball---my eye did not like that one bit.


Well, that probably isn't the technical way of putting it. I just sort of irritated all the dry spots, really, so much that they formed one big, nasty, dry, blistery, rough spot on my cornea, which is why it hurt like hell. Basically, my eye needed some chapstick. Or, like, a really good exfoliating treament. Actually, what my eye really needed, said the doctor, was a week without contact lenses, eye drops six to eight times a day, and a follow-up appointment in the morning and a week later. (Sadly no eyepatch. I know, I was really crossing my fingers too.)  

By the way, remember how I was worried about how much the whole appointment would cost? Remember how it was one of the things that kept me from going? Well, it cost $35. Yep, just $35---which included both times I saw the doctor--and that was without insurance (she didn't take the kind I had.) She saw me after hours, spent at least 45 minutes with me, and was one of the kindest doctors I've ever come across. Sometimes it's the best feeling in the world to find a doctor like that.

So that was Friday and today is Sunday, and my eye is already feeling a whole lot better. My follow-up appointment was Saturday, during which it was revealed that my poor cracked eyeball is healing nicely. Apparently, however, the pattern of the dry bits on my corneas is in keeping with a person who SLEEPS WITH THEIR EYES A LITTLE BIT OPEN, which I found to be one of the creepiest things I've ever heard. At the same time, though, I can't help but be just a little bit proud of myself for it: I mean, does that sound like a skill or what? Mark my words, it's going straight on my resume. Hey, never hurts to set yourself apart.

(You know what I was just thinking about? This is the THIRD gross thing that's happened to me since I started my blog. No really, it is! Remember when I split my earlobe in two? And then my bottom lip swelled up to the size of a tire? It's like my body is all "Hmmm, you were planning to write about your wedding again, were you? OH HELL NO, let me take care of that.")

Jan 11, 2010

My last eye doctor check-up confirmed a similar problem to what you're experiencing; I sleep with my right (and only my right) eye open enough that it causes a dry band across my eyeball. My right eye had always bothered me when wearing contacts, and that would be the entire reason why.

My eye doctor suggested using lubricating eye drops (like Systane) every night before bed, but I even put some in right before putting my contacts in and it's made a huge difference! I'm also glad he caught it before I had a chance to break my eyeball, heh.

Gosh dangit, when will laser eye surgery be cheap enough for everyone to afford it?

Jan 11, 2010

Wow, sleeping with your eyes open! I'm amazed Sean hasn't noticed that one at some stage. Meanwhile I hope you were number 16 and went and rated that doctor 5 stars!

Jan 11, 2010

My sister sleeps with her eyes open...we always figured it's cause her eyes/eyelashes are so big/long..the price she pays for having such gorgeous features. :)
I never thought much of it, cause I'm so used to it, but it can be pretty freaky for some people.

Jan 11, 2010

Thank you for that vivid eyeball injury description. Such imagery. I was warned. I may make it part of my diet regimen, bookmark it, read it every morning before I even think about eating. Yup. You have changed my life. And quite possibly the size of my thighs.

Jan 11, 2010

Working in an eye hospital for 6 months was strange, but never did I come across a cracked eyeball - you're clearly one of a kind lol!

Jan 11, 2010

Eugh. I scratched my cornea once and thought that was bad. This is so much worse. The no contacts for a week didn't bother me half as much as the no mascara for a week, though.

Jan 11, 2010

Ow. I scratched my cornea once as well, and was that ever fun. Except for the part where I ended up driving to the eye doctor and couldn't see, as my eye kept tearing up and making an ass of itself. And the part where I had to explain to the doctor that my husband accidently shot ms in the eye with a penumatic (sp?) staple gun. Word to the wise? Don't ever buy a staple gun so cheap it doesn't have a safety on the trigger, or you'll end up in the doctor's office, explaining for the umpteenth time WHY they don't need to call the cops.

Jan 11, 2010

ok, so i was innocently reading along when i came to: "you don't want to be eating that bunch of grapes while you read this. Or that bowl of cherry tomatoes."

and what was i eating?

a bowl of grapes and cherry tomatoes.

let's just say i finished them before reading the rest!

and i'm glad your eye is ok :)

Jan 11, 2010

I've always had people tell me I sleep with my eyes open and I never believe them! And now you're making my eyes feel twitchy because I just put in my contacts...

Jan 11, 2010

There's actually a picture of me on a train (to Galway from Dublin, if you must know) sleeping with one eye open, not to mention my jaw, which was absolutely gaping. My two friends are leaning in front of me giving thumbs up.

This was one weekend during my semester abroad, and later that semester, those two friends had to give a presentation on Irish culture. They managed to set up a line for "this is what the inside of an Irish train car looks like" and flashed that picture up on the screen.

As an aside, I had to wear a patch for about six months in fourth grade. I was too young to pull of irony, so it was a pretty painful six months.

Jan 11, 2010

Sorry, am so distracted by your lovely wedding photos I cannot get through the eyeball story. The pics are truly beautiful. Adore, adore, adore.

Jan 11, 2010

I did the exact same thing a few months ago. The pain started the instant I took out the contact. Also went to the doctor after 24 hours. Same no-contacts-for-a-week prescription. Didn't mention anything about sleeping with my eyes open though. I've been lazy about the nightly eye drops but after a few testimonials here, may try that again.

I also will squirt solution in my eyes before taking out the lenses if I think they are dry.

FunnyGal KAT
Jan 11, 2010

That sounds... a little gross (and painful!) But what a lovely doctor-- I hope you commented on Yelp about her so the next person with dry eyeballs knows she's a good person to go to.

Jan 11, 2010

Dustin sleeps with his eyes a little bit open and it frightens me. ;)

Maybe he should start wearing a sleeping mask?

Jan 11, 2010

Oh, duh! Happy to hear your eye is on the mend!

Sensibly Sassy
Jan 11, 2010

Your so right-don't be a hero! Besides, what good is a blind hero?

Jan 11, 2010

You need to sell this story to the latest Final Destination franchise. I'm sure they could rewrite it to have someone meet their end by pulling contacts off of dry eyes. The verdict: sufficiently gross that I am going to hold off on cooking dinner for a bit.

HIp Hip Gin Gin
Jan 11, 2010

Oh Holly! That is the second urkiest eyeball injury story I've heard, beaten only by my husband's retinal surgery.
I'm so glad your eye is healing nicely! And sleeping with your eyes open basically makes you a kick ass ninja so I definitely would put it on your resume.

Jan 11, 2010

I hope your eye is feeling better, even without the jaunty eye patch. Also, I think I need the name of this eye doctor. After ACCIDENTALLY RUNNING OVER A CURB WITH MY CAR THIS WEEKEND, I'm pretty sure I need new glasses.

At least it was a sidewalk curb and not a small child. Still, embarrassing.

Jan 11, 2010

Eek! I agree -- don't mess with your eyes. I had a co-worker almost lose her eye because she kept putting off an appointment. I had to lay off contacts for several months because of an irritation, and it's better than not having an eye.

Glad you're healing.

Locusts and Wild Honey
Jan 11, 2010

As someone who has never worn contacts or glasses, I find eye stuff TERRIFYING. I won't even let people come near my eyes.

Bless your poor cracked eyeball.

Jan 11, 2010

um OW. i'm immediately taking my contacts out when i get home. my eye doctor has repeatedly told me to remove my contacts after 8 or 9 hours to give my eyes some breathing room.

also when i was living at home i had to take my dad to the emergency room at TWO in the morning because his eye was bothering him and his vision was blurry. turns out he had an EYELASH way up in his eyeball. at TWO in the morning. so at least your visit would be legitimate!

jennifer in sf
Jan 11, 2010

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. This is why I refuse to wear contact lenses. Not that they actually caused this but still!

Also, I would love to know the name of this magical eye doctor. I haven't been to one since my traumatic Lens Crafters visit, and it's really past time.

Jan 11, 2010

Oh man, I've been there and then some. Going in for what I thought was pink eye and finding out I actually had an ulcer in my eye was a situation I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I haven't heard of cracking your eyeball before but that's probably the best "technical" term out there for it.

Glad it's feeling better.

Jan 11, 2010

Thankfully, I have become inured to Awful Eye Stories thanks to four years of marriage to my husband, a man who still enjoys periodically freaking me out by relating grisly tales from his childhood.

As a kid he was playing with his friends in the river where he was not allowed to go on account of whirlpools and riptides and so on, and they were having fun by throwing handfuls of sand and mud at each other. Well, he received one in the eye, and he blinked, and he couldn't see anything so he washed his eye and he still couldn't see anything.

So he went to the eye hospital and because he didn't want to get in trouble he didn't want to tell them the real story so he was all 'oh I fell off my bike and I think maybe a bit of dirt got in my eye' and he was mocked by all the staff until they actually took a look at his eye and realised that he had knocked his lens out of position. He had to spend a week in hospital with an eyepatch getting his eye fixed with creams and things and listening to Stupid Eye Stories of the other inmates, including a fireman who had wanted to check that pressure in the hose was working correctly by looking down it.

Jan 11, 2010

oh WOW. kind of horrifying and awesome at the same time. weird body science, woo! glad you had such a successful doctor visit.

making a mental note to go change my contacts tonight and maybe spend some more time in my glasses than usual...

Jan 11, 2010

I'm glad you are going to be OK, but I may have to take a break from your blog for a while because I just read all the comments and Nina's was sort of the straw that broke the camels back. I can't open my eyes any more. Really. Typing with eyes closed, here. Eww eww ewwhjbkcouiwey ghe; anc

Jan 11, 2010

You are a fabulous writer and I so enjoy reading your posts. I hope your eye heals expeditiously!

Jan 11, 2010


Scariest line of that dialogue? "Let's talk about it".

Really (really!) glad you were astute enough to be seen in a timely manner, and three cheers for Yelp reviews leading you in such a solid direction.

You'd think "kind doctor" would not be quite such an oxymoron, but they sure do seem to stand out.

Fast-eyeball-healing thoughts heading your way from here :-)

Jan 11, 2010

Oops I was one of those casual Twitter folk who said wait it out, sorry!

I totally understand how bad eye things can be. Three years ago I had PRK (which is similar to Lasik although with a longer recovery time and you have to get each eye done two weeks apart). After the surgery they stick a contact lense over your eye to protect the area for 5 days. Well they don't care whether the damn lens is on straight or not. So I was incredibly uncomfortable with both eyes. In fact on the left eye (which I did two weeks after my right) it was so bad that one day I couldn't open OR close my eye and was in agony. I had to call my Doc (who lives in SF and works in the East Bay) on a Sunday and have her come in (while she had been having fun at the beach with her family) to look at it and remove it!

The removal of the contact was the worst pain ever (and I have had kidney stones). It was like ripping off the top layer of my cornea!

Anyway I ramble, but I feel your pain!

Jan 11, 2010

Wow. Who knew you could crack your eyeball? Impressive. And sleeping with your eyes open is even more impressive. I'm glad you got it figured out though, it sounds painful!

Jan 11, 2010

I normally just love to read but I just had to comment. I am glad you had it looked at and are healing well. I know that feeling of eye pain though: Whe I was 14, I was very hastily putting on my kelly green cover girl eyeliner (what? it was 1989) and a sliver of wood from the eye pencil got stuck in my eye. was so painful and my mother could not (force me down and pry my eye open to) get it out. So she took me to the emergency room. Yep...I went to the emergency room because I had a splinter from an eyeliner pencil in my eye. I think I made their stupidest patients list. least it was a contact and a dry eyeball and you didn't have to explain how you just got a little hasty with your eyeliner!

Jan 11, 2010

ONe word from me to you



I have had it twice.


Jan 11, 2010

Ok, I have such a thing about eyes that I could not read this post. I am very sorry about your eye though. I gather that it is hurt, right? So sorry.

Jan 11, 2010

Once I lost my contact in my eye and it rolled all the way round my eyeball in the night and in the morning it came out all covered in goop. True story. Grossed out yet? Glad you're feeling better. And sleeping w/your eyes open? Ick. But Cool. Like Gandalf. V powerful.

Jan 11, 2010

These are my two eye injury stories (there are many many more) but these are the best two.

A long time ago, my husband was doing some work on his truck and had been drilling through some sheet metal. Later that night, we went to the grocery store and when he turned the AC on, something blew out of the vent and it got in his eye. He kept saying that it hurt and asked if I could see anything which I couldn't. We went on about our evening thinking his discomfort would go away (I've had scratched corneas before and know they just take a few days to heal). Finally at 3am, on Christmas Eve morning mind you, he woke me up saying that it still hurt and that I had to try and get out whatever it was that was in his eye. Since I couldn't see anything and I'm not an eye surgeon, we headed to the ER where we found out he had a metal shaving stuck in his eye, smack dab in the middle of the pupil. It had already started to rust so it was good that we went in and didn't wait until the next day. What was almost worse than that was that the ER doc used a needle (EEK!!)to remove the shaving.

This one is my story. I've had many eye issues but my worst was when I was opening a cardboard box at work when one of the flaps snapped up hitting me square in the eye. I didn't think anything of it because my eye didn't hurt and it seemed okay. Well the next day when I got up, I went to put my contacts in and saw that the white of my eye looked like hamburger. Thank goodness I was wearing contacts because it kept my cornea from being damaged. I still couldn't wear my contacts though because the damaged part pushed my lens over making my vision blurry.

Thankfully we haven't had any major occurrences since then (knock on wood).

Jan 11, 2010

As a long-term contact lens wearer I have to add my 2cents to the mix. The time I thought I'd scratched my cornea - left the lenses out for a week, then two weeks when the irritation returned as soon as I put the lens back in. This was back-in-the-day before disposables, so I assumed I needed a new lens. But the optometrist took one look at my eyeball and sent me to a specialist. Who told me I had an ULCER on my eye and needed to squeeze cream (uck) into it for five days and wear an eyepatch. And no, you can't drive. And I'd parked my car in an inner-city parking station that cost about a bajillion dollars per day to park. Luckily turning up at the parking station wearing an eyepatch and explaining my situation helped, so they only charged me a million dollars before my friend rescued the car. Also, I had tickets to an international act which I'd paid lots of money for so I went, but one eye=no depth perception and I fell UP the stairs holding a drink which then went all over me, so I saw this band one-eyed and damp, smelling of booze. Never felt the same way about them afterwards.

Whew! Be glad you have no eyepatch, Holly.

Jan 11, 2010

Now, you're posts? They are always humorous. You've definitely got the funny skills, but this is by far the funniest blog post you've written in the time I've been reading. I had a huge grin on my face from beginning to end, though I also was squinting and squirming in my seat, so I'm sure people were wondering what on earth I was looking at. Hmmm....maybe I should leave the coffee shop now?

Jan 11, 2010

this is horrible, but your retelling is HILARIOUS. (the part about "don't be a hero" and "i know! i was crossing my fingers, too.") just about killed me.

Jan 11, 2010

ok. 1) love the doctor: "well...let's talk about it..." 2) ditto on the excellent share 3) THIS ALMOST EXACTLY HAPPENED TO MY YOUNGER SISTER!!! she had something in her eye but none of us believed her. we thought she was being melodramatic when the morning after she complained about the sun in her eyes when we drove from chas to atl. (i was SURE it was a ply to score the empty back seat and skip the beside-driver-mom hot seat.) then once there, i think she wore sunglasses inside and had hot cloths on it to no avail. when she flew home to dc, it still hadn't improved and she finally went to the doc. she had a sliver of plastic--a clear plastic fiber splinter--in her eyeball! almost a crack! or a HOLE like yours. if she hadn't gone to the doctor she would have gone...well, who knows. blind? mad? both? so. lesson? don't fool around with them eyeballs. and believe anyone named holly or ruff ruff (code name for lil sis) if they have physical complaints. (did i mention the stomachache we told her was gas and was appendicitis? woe to the youngest in my fam. and sorry bout bad form rambling.) cheers!

adele Richards
Jan 12, 2010

I am biting my knuckle in horror.........oooooeeeee ooooo arrrrrr.

By the way did you know that they say (the all-knowing They) that sleeping with your eyes open is a sign of superior intelligence.

But then you saw that one coming didn't you?

Jan 12, 2010

I am glad you are doing okay. And trust me you do not want an eye patch, been there done that and it sucks. I got an eye infection while in Turkey and I have to say the Turkish sound as nice and amazing as your eye doctor and my hotel even sent along their cousin to translate. But running around Ephesus with an eye patch and it being a windy day in February wasn't fun. Let alone all the pirate jokes my boyfriend made and the picture evidence...

Jan 12, 2010

Yes, eyes are definitely nothing to fool with. You only get one pair and going blind would be a huge bummer. Also, $35? For BOTH visits? I wonder if it would be cost effective for me to fly cross country to visit your eye doctor next time. I recently had an allergic reaction to my contacts. It took 2 visits to treat the allergies, which cost me something closer to $60. And that doesn't include the visit to get a new prescription, which cost another $135.

Jan 12, 2010

I used to baby-sit a little girl who slept with her eyes open. Very creepy. The first time I saw it, I thought she was messing with me, so I did a few 'tests' to check. Made funny faces, pretending I was going to poke her nose etc.

Dr. Maureen
Jan 12, 2010

Yep. Totally squinched up my face and eyes when I got to the bad part.

And my brother sleeps with his eyes open. That's how you can tell he's all the way asleep!

Glad you're not blind!

Super Sarah
Jan 12, 2010

I think you have the same problem that I have, have you been wearing contacts for years and years? I have been wearing them for over 20 years and apparently prolonged lense wearers can become 'lazy blinkers' where your eye becomes so used to be covered nicely by a moist contact that your blink reflex gets a little lazy and suddenly: dry eye which I have never had a problem with. Now I have to put eye drops in morning and eye gel in at night and am somehow proud to call myself a lazy blinker because it sounds like a strange kind of badge of honour! You lazy blinker, you!

Jan 12, 2010

Ouch! I am a contact lens user myself and know that when a eye lash gets stuck between your eye & lens it hurts like a beeeotch! I can't even imagine how that hurt for you.

And speaking of talents, you sleep with your eyes a bit open. Well, I don't blink properly. Beat that. :)

Nothing But Bonfires
Jan 12, 2010

Oh lazy blinker is TOTALLY going on my resume too.

Cynthia Carhart
Jan 13, 2010

That sounds so scary. I would be petrified if my eye was starting to hurt over an extended period of time and I didn't know why. I wear contacts too, but i sometimes leave them in over night because I'm just to lazy to take them out. But after reading this, I don't care if it's 2 a.m. and I'm about to fall asleep, I'm getting my butt out of bed to get my contacts out.

Jan 13, 2010

Eekkk, I just went to the eye dr today where I was given a warning that I have extremely dry eyes and I better lay off the contacts for a bit. I thank you for backing up my eye doctor and I will take her seriously!
So glad you got a wonderful doctor and you're healing.
And it's always good to have something new for the resume!

Jan 24, 2010


I did not even know that was possible. I wish I had never read this. Now I'm irrationally terrified of CRACKING MY EYEBALL.

May 15, 2010

well I thought it was going to be a super nasty story...
It wasn't... Freaky though

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