Man survives a nail in the eye
Man survives a nail in the eye A CT scan with a nail in the eye of a patient (AP photos)
Man survives a nail in the eye
Lexile: 640L

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There must have been a four-leaf clover in those weeds.

A 27-year-old landscaper escaped with barely a scratch after a nearly 3-inch nail hurtled into his eye. He accidentally hit it with a weed-whacker.

Doctors who removed the nail at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital described the case in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"When you looked at him, all you saw was the back end of the nail," said Dr. Wael Asaad. It was in his right eye. Asaad is a neurosurgeon. A neurosurgeon is a doctor who specializes in surgery of the brain and nervous system. He now works at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University.

It happened about two years ago. The man wasn't identified.

Doctors couldn't tell how long the nail was or its path. Radiologist Dr. Rajiv Gupta used a new type of CT scanner. It revealed detailed images.

"It reached almost to the tip of the other eye and the brain. It was a very long nail," he said.

The good news? The nail had not penetrated the globe of the eye. It was to one side.

The bad news? It was lodged against one of the main arteries supplying blood to the head. It was also against another artery serving the other eye.

"The tip of the nail was like the finger in the dam. We were worried that if we pulled it out there would be bleeding." A jet of blood could damage the other eye or the brain. It could even prove fatal, Asaad said.

They made an elaborate plan. It was in case an artery ruptured and had to be repaired. One surgeon was ready to operate through the head. A second surgeon was ready to operate through the neck. As these two stood by, a third surgeon carefully pulled out the nail.

They waited several minutes. No major bleeding occurred. They stopped sedating him and the patient was allowed to wake. He was given a tetanus shot and a prescription for five days of preventive antibiotics. Then he was on his way.

A checkup eight weeks later showed his vision had returned to normal. Had the nail struck 1 millimeter away, he likely would have had major damage, doctors said.

As dramatic as it was, "nails penetrating the skull are not as uncommon as you would think," Asaad said. They are usually from nail gun accidents.

Gupta said the lesson is clear.

"Wear eye protection whenever operating heavy machinery. That also includes power tools. They should be worn even when using simple tools for gardening.

Critical thinking challenge: Why was the landscaper injured by a nail instead of some other object?

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Assigned 41 times

  • annabel1226-yyca
    5/20/2015 - 08:42 p.m.

    Ewe! There is a nail stuck in the man's eye. It was a miracle that he was not dead and he could see now.But he could have been be careful to not to get the nail get stuck to his eye. If I was that man I will cover my eyes.

    Critical thinking challenge: Why was the landscaper injured by a nail instead of some other object?
    Answer: I predict that he might have been working and accidentally poked his eyeball in the edge of the nail.

  • Brayden-Hor
    5/21/2015 - 09:54 a.m.

    There better be a four leaf clover in that field or that that would be bad.Though I have seen someone swallow a bunch spoons.

  • lucasv-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 10:32 a.m.

    I wonder, how many hours did it take to get the 3 in. nail out of his eye?

  • matthewh-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 10:37 a.m.

    I wonder how long it took doctors to get 3 inch nail out of eye

  • robertd-Hyl
    5/21/2015 - 12:02 p.m.

    I thought that the picture was a very awesome pic

  • robertd-Hyl
    5/21/2015 - 12:08 p.m.

    I thought that the picture was a very awesome picture mostly beceause it shows how close the nail was to getting to the brain and the nail was very close to the brain in my opinion. Also I liked this article because it teaches me to where saftey gogles when im mowing with a hand mower and weedwacking.

  • mya18-Bla
    5/21/2015 - 12:55 p.m.

    I feel bad for the young man. He had to go through so much pain! Im glad he made it through. For the critical thinking challenge: The man got injured from the nail because he was weed whacking.

  • dan16-Bla
    5/21/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    If it went through the artery (the side) then how did it not blind him?

  • ben13-Bla
    5/21/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    I don't know how if people operated on his neck and his head it would prevent a jet of blood from coming out of his eye.

  • caragh5-Bla
    5/21/2015 - 12:59 p.m.

    I did not know that getting a nail in your eye was as uncommon as i thought it was. I am lucky that I have never got a nail in my eye! It is good to hear that his vision returned to normal! I hope that he will be careful with weed-whackers!

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