Best course of action after cutting open ones eye.
January 20, 2009 3:19 PM   Subscribe

In the event that I cut my eye open while shaving with a straight razor, what steps can I take to improve the chances of keeping my eye.

My current plan is to close my eyes, tilt my head back, then make my way to the phone to call 911. Any input would be appreciated.
posted by demon666 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In high school, I had someone put one of her inch-long nails into one of my eyeballs (FYI, do not trampoline with someone with claws, without proper protection, the more you know...).

There was no gushing of blood or other body fluids, so I dunno how much you need to tilt the head back. My folks drove me to the ER, no ambulance. To prevent developing lazy eye, the doctors covered both eyes while the one was healing. Within a few months, everything was healed up enough to wear contacts again.
posted by nomisxid at 3:30 PM on January 20, 2009

What the fuck?

If you cut your eye open with a straight razor, all your eye gunk will ooze out and your eye will collapse like a raisin.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:32 PM on January 20, 2009 [7 favorites]

Do not shave your eye/under lashes with a straight razor. Or at all.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:38 PM on January 20, 2009

This pediatric medicine book suggests that usually your eye will not collapse like a raisin, but that the eye will plug the wound.

They suggest you have a stiff shield (the bottom of a plastic cup, or maybe one of those plastic eye-washers) can be placed over the eye while you wait for your ambulance. So keep one of those by the sink where you do your shaving.

And try to avoid vomitting; it will result in "extrusion of intraocular contents" (scariest sentence I've ever read).
posted by twoporedomain at 3:42 PM on January 20, 2009 [8 favorites]

(but really, maybe don't use a straight razor near your eyes if you're worried about this)
posted by twoporedomain at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

If this is a genuine concern, wouldn't it be wise to either (a) use a safety razor or (b) wear safety goggles while shaving?
If you worry about having enough control over where the blade goes to prevent it from going into your eye, you might consider going Norelco. Just a thought. If you don't have that kind of control over your hands, you'll end up cutting other parts (ears, nose, lips, Adam's Apple) with the razor even if you miss the eyes.
posted by leapfrog at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding leapfrog - if you are afraid of this, wear glasses or consider using a safety razor instead. Prevention is a far better route than extraordinary first aid while your eye is cut.

That said, unless there are unusual circumstances here like a coordination or muscle control issue, I think it's unlikely you would put your straight razor into your eye. Shaving is done with very little pressure, so the blade shouldn't suddenly slip.
posted by zippy at 4:38 PM on January 20, 2009

Seriously man, WTF? I use a straight razor, and there's no way this can happen under normal, safe usage. My blade never gets near my eyes. I haven't even nicked myself in months. If this is even remotely possible, You're Doing It Wrong.

But if you cut your eye open, it's gone, baby, gone. No restoration there. You aren't likely to bleed much, as the eye isn't very heavily veined or anything, but you can kiss the eye itself goodbye.
posted by valkyryn at 4:39 PM on January 20, 2009

I once had an extremely minor eye injury (a piece of gravel got in there--had to go to the doctor to get it flushed out) and every time I blinked I'd go into terrible, trembling spasms. Are you sure you'd be able to walk calmly over to the phone? Clearly, you need to keep your cell phone on you, each time you shave, preferably with "911" on speed dial.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:49 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

If I doubted my ability with the a straight razor, I would not be using it in the first place. I think it is prudent to have some idea on how to deal with extremely unlikely events that could have a profound impact on my life.
posted by demon666 at 5:17 PM on January 20, 2009

But if you cut your eye open, it's gone, baby, gone. No restoration there. You aren't likely to bleed much, as the eye isn't very heavily veined or anything, but you can kiss the eye itself goodbye.

Horseshit. John Muir pierced his eye with a file as a young man and ultimately regained sight in the eye.
posted by saladin at 5:23 PM on January 20, 2009

Are you juggling with the razor or shaving with it? I can't think of a sitation where you could accidently cut your eye open with a straight razor unless you felt your eye brows were too long and you sneezed.
posted by Man_in_staysis at 5:25 PM on January 20, 2009 [5 favorites]

If this is something that you feel necessary to prepare for, a cordless phone may be a good investment. (Get a 5.8 GHz one, which won't interfere with 802.11b/g, unlike a 2.4 GHz.)

Keep it on the counter, so that, if you do cut your eye open, you can call 911 without having to run around the house looking for it with your eyes closed. (Hint from doing stuff in the dark: keep it in the corner, so that you can run your hand along the wall, and when your hand runs into the other wall, you can just run your hand along the 'crease' to the phone. Otherwise you're liable to knock it over as you fumble for it.)

Sorry this doesn't give medical advice as much as common sense about where to keep a phone, but it's the little things that can make a big difference.

For some reason, discussion of cutting eyes, unlike any other body part, makes me incredibly squeamish. Which is why I cannot have Lasix.
posted by fogster at 5:43 PM on January 20, 2009

If it's big impact/low-probability events you're worried about whilst shaving (and I'm sure there are many), don't forget to worry about the veins in your neck - which after all, you are actually shaving.
posted by Xhris at 7:53 PM on January 20, 2009

The first aid I was taught for eye injuries is to cover the hurt eye with something stiff as twoporedomain suggested above, and then to cover both eyes with some kind of blindfold. Your eyes move in tandem, so looking around with your good eye will cause the hurt one to move around too. This movement can cause further damage. So, cover your eyes and try not to look around in that darkness. Find your phone by feel, and wait for somebody else to drive you to the hospital.
posted by vytae at 8:12 PM on January 20, 2009

I have an irrational fear of stabbing myself in the eye with a pencil.

My plan? Not to do it. Seriously. Sharp objects and eyes don't mix. If they do, protect but do not touch, and uh, maybe you should see a doc?
posted by nat at 9:10 PM on January 20, 2009

From my experience, your eye would slam shut and refuse to open. I took a blow to the eye from a tied elastic strap that came undone once, and all I could do was sit down and try not to blubber like a baby. Couldn't talk, couldn't open my eye, just went to hospital and got it all checked out.

Your eye wouldn't leak out like a popped balloon, so keeping your head back would not really be necessary. Talking calmly to the 911 operator would be your biggest concern.
posted by tomble at 10:41 PM on January 20, 2009

Just a question...
Have you ever dissected an eyeball?
They're way harder to cut through than you might imagine, and a straight razor is a very poor tool for cutting through things much thicker than hairs.
Slicing is even less efficient with a blade like this on a surface like an eyeball, and a more realistic disaster scenario.
[you need micro-serrations to saw through an object, and the stropping you ought to be performing before each shave should smooth the edge to eliminate these imperfections]

This isn't saying that you couldn't get a nasty cut that could be painful and impair your vision, but barring a particularly well-orchestrated sneeze or a slip-and-fall-and-land-on-your-razor-somehow, I believe the odds of puncturing your eyeball are very low even *if* you manage to cut yourself in the eye.

Another safety point is in how you hold the razor, as [assuming you use your right hand] [NOT HANDIST] your right eyeball will be protected by your nose and your left eyeball will be protected by really awkward angles of attack.
By the time your thumb hits the bridge of your nose, the shank of the blade should extend across the majority of your eyeball, leaving only a small portion of outer eye vulnerable to potential slicing.
By the time you manoeuvred the razor to reach your left eyeball, your arm and wrist would be in such awkwardly extended positions that you would not be able to exert any real cutting force without the aid of the aforementioned slipping plot device.

For both of those situations, I am assuming that your razor is more or less perpendicular to your nose, as sideburn trimming [which is the only excuse to be in anything approaching eyeball territory] pretty much requires this position, and your eye socket is a better guard against up-down slicing than it is against sideways slicing.


Put an eyewash bottle somewhere handy because the biggest impediment to healing would be some beard or soap getting in the scratch you just made.
posted by Acari at 11:07 PM on January 20, 2009

just to be clear in case those descriptions are not clear: before typing that out, I got out my razor and tested out the angles for you. I know you won't be likely to do the same, so I'm asking you to trust me that it's not super likely for the blade to even reach your eyeball accidentally.

and I just realized that you could possibly mean safety razor instead of folding razor. In which case you may disregard all of that stuff.
posted by Acari at 11:20 PM on January 20, 2009

I punctured my eyeball with a pair of barber's shears at home one day when I was six. My pupil oozed out through the slit in my cornea, and I remember staring at it in the mirror and thinking, this'll heal. I barricaded myself in the bathroom because I was afraid that I'd, a) get in big trouble for playing with scissors, and b) have to get a shot if I let them take me to the doctor. They won, and I had emergency surgery, which saved my eye.

They sucked my rogue pupil up, put it back where it belongs, and then they sewed my cornea shut. I still have a white scar there and don't enjoy 3-D movies - they're just blue and blurry. And my pupil is shaped like a keyhole, sort of.

It'll hurt like hell, I recall.
posted by heyho at 12:15 AM on January 21, 2009 [5 favorites]

Unless you shave while you're drunk or on salvia or some such, this is not going to happen. Women put pencils and brushes and god only knows what other implements of cosmetic masochism into their eyes every day WHILE DRIVING TO WORK, presumably drunken driving to boot, as I cannot imagine anyone doing this unless they are drunk or completely berserk or both. At the very least they are probably a bit tired, but not one of them has posted this question here nor will they ever, as MetaFilter women almost certainly do NOT do this.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:42 AM on January 21, 2009

It hurt like hell, I recall. (Oops.)
posted by heyho at 1:07 AM on January 21, 2009

When I was a kid, I watched one of my neighbours trip, land on a fork, and puncture her eyeball. Her parents put an icepack over her eye and took her to emergency, and I think she had a stitch in her eye.

Two weeks later she was fine, but I've had nightmares about it ever since.

I suspect a straight razor would be much more serious than this, but your eyeball might be salvageable if you follow the advice upthread?
posted by indienial at 5:27 AM on January 21, 2009

If I doubted my ability with the a straight razor, I would not be using it in the first place. I think it is prudent to have some idea on how to deal with extremely unlikely events that could have a profound impact on my life.

You know, good for you on being prepared and all, but this reads as actually crazy because it is so far out of the realm of possibility.

My dad sliced his hand open while carving as a kid. He still has a scar down below his thumb towards his wrist. As a result of this story I'm constantly telling myself "never cut toward yourself, never cut toward yourself" while using a knife. This pretty much solves any accidental stab or cut issues, and for those that it doesn't solve you'll realize you weren't following your own directions and can then say "I fucking told you so!" to yourself.

Now, with shaving it's obviously more of an issue, but just adjust this to "never cut towards YOUR FUCKING EYE"
posted by odinsdream at 6:44 AM on January 21, 2009

Swim goggles, dude. Swim goggles. I'd also like to thank you for giving me waking nightmares while I shave for the next 40 years. Thanks.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:29 PM on January 21, 2009

Watch less Buñuel and don't worry about it.
posted by Abiezer at 2:02 PM on January 23, 2009

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