Anyone who has owned several hamsters might have seen Glaucoma. When a hamster is struck by it, one or both of its eyes become filled with liquid from the inside of the eyeball. The hamster will find this irritating and usually ends up scratching its eyes off during the course of several days, effectively making it blind.
Spitting cobra venom is very painful and potentially blinding if it hits your eye. And spitting cobras seem to know this.
For those non-humans out there, the ommatokoita is a crustacean that feeds off the eyeballs of the Greenland shark. It just burrows right in there and starts chomping away. Fortunately for the shark (well... depending on your definition of 'fortunate'), some scientists speculate that the sharks use the parasite as a means of attracting food since almost all Greenland sharks have ommatokoita in their eyeballs (or lack thereof)..
Haplochromis compressiceps, a species of African cichlid, is a predator that incapacitates prey by biting out the eyes of other fishes. Another (extinct) cichlid species is believed to have fed entirely on eyeballs; at least, that's what the type specimen's stomach was full of.
Shepherds have detested ravens and crows for thousands of year, as they're widely reported to peck out the eyes of young lambs.
Dog and cat breeds with very flat faces, such as Pekineses or Persians, are prone to having their eyeballs bulge so far forwards that they jut out of the sockets. This usually happens as a result of eye inflammation or a severe shaking of the head, and is most common in older animals whose muscles and connective tissues have grown too weak to hold the eyeball in place.
Two Words: Hammurabi's Law. An eye for an eye indeed.
Some versions of the legend of SaintChristopher include him being supposed to be killed by arrow shooting, yet no arrow touched him. One of them, however, hits the prefect Dagon (who had ordered his martyrdom) in the eye. Christopher takes pity on him and tells him to mix his own blood with some dust and apply it to his bloody eye; if he does so, he'll be healed. Dagon takes the advice, regains his sight, and after Christopher dies he becomes a Christian as well.
King Harold Godwinsson may have had his eye put out by an arrow at the Battle of Hastings. Whether this actually happened or not is up for debate. The "arrow in the eye" is not mentioned in any source except the Bayeux Tapestry. There is an argument that Harold might be the guy to the right of the man with the arrow sticking out of his eye; the one being chopped down by a sword-wielding knight on horseback. Or they could BOTH be Harold—close examination of the Tapestry shows stitch marks coming out of the eye of the fellow being chopped down.
Saint Lucy of Syracuse, venerated in the Catholic Church, is famous for her martyrdom, where her eyes were allegedly gouged out when her persecutors could not move her in any other way. (That's the popular version. Another story says a suitor wrote to her of her beautiful eyes and she cut them out and sent them to him and asked him to leave her alone. She was still able to see without them, and is often portrayed holding her own eyes on a plate.
In the Byzantine / East Roman Empire, it was standard operating procedure to deal with "pretenders to the throne" by putting out their eyes and mutilating their faces in other ways, at least among some of the more ruthless rulers. This policy came about because the Emperor was required to have an immaculate face, and missing eyes would get you disqualified on that count. Originally, they were a bit more civilized in getting rid of rivals, and would only cut their nose in half vertically instead of preforming "Three Stooges Play With Knives", but then one of the deposed split-nosed emperors — Justinian II — was rude enough to force himself back into power. After that, they decided to be safe, rather than nice. At least some of the time to accomplish the feat they'd first heat up an iron plate until it was red hot. Then they would pour vinegar into it and hold the non- or ex-emperor's face over it until their corneas were scarred over by the vinegar vapor. Blinding was supposed to be a more civilized/Christian way to deal with rivals than the alternative of killing them.
Legend has it that Xiahou Dun, a Chinese general under Warlord Cao Cao during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, took an arrow to the eye in a battle against rebels lead by Lu Bu. Since he promised his worried family that not one part of him would rot in the ground in his military service, he took out the remnants of the eye using the offending arrow like a squicky kebab and ate it.
Date Masamune at one point during his childhood suffers a pox in his eyes. Seeing it as a hindrance, he orders his servant to pluck it out. Thus, the One Eyed Dragon of Oushuu is born.
If we are willing to believe what Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior has told us, the Samurai would fire their bow aimed at the enemy's eye for a complete incapacitation... if you survive. The Shaolin monk also went for the eyes during his demonstration of "emei piercers"- small, arrow-shaped stabbing daggers that are easily concealed within a monk's robe sleeves. You could see what he was planning to do when he got the first ever gel-mannequin with big googly eyes. He goes for the gold, however, by prying both of the mannequin's eyes out and impaling them like 'mushrooms on skewers' while continuing to stab away at the mannequin until he's separated the entire sinuses and frontal lobes. Then keeping the eyeballs on the piercers while the tech guys run their calculations, much to the disgust of the tech guys.
Pumping your enemy's eyeballs full of ground glass or caustic powder is also the idea behind the ninja's "black egg". It proves less effective than it should be against the Spartan, possibly because the computer couldn't figure out what to do with a non-lethal weapon (even if the weapon's purpose was to render your enemy vulnerable to attack by more ordinary weapons and incapable of aiming their own weapons, it still scores "zero" kills).
"In one experiment, to prove that color perception is caused by pressure on the eye, [Sir Isaac] Newton slid a darning needle around the side of his eye until he could poke at its rear side, dispassionately noting "white, darke & colored circles" so long as he kept stirring with "ye bodkin." Oh, science.
Maharana Sangram Singh, better known in India as Rana Sanga, a 16th century Rajput King, while fleeing on horseback was shot at by his brother with an arrow that pierced and blinded one eye. He later lost An Arm and a Leg as well.
How Louis Braille became blind: One eye lost to a close encounter with an awl, the other to the result of an infection. The dude was three when this happened!
Historic reality: Cataract surgery. Without anaesthesia. Most of historical ophthalmic surgery falls into this trope. Consider that the first successful corneal transplant was done in 1905, long before the vast majority of surgical techniques and technologies came into widespread use. (Surgeons operated bare-handed in their street clothes, instruments weren't usually sterile, anesthesia usually consisted of a dose of intravenous cocaine and then inhaled ether, controlled from an open drip bottle...)
The Rev. Patrick Brontė, father of Charlotte Brontė and her siblings, had cataract surgery done at age 69, in August 1846. He was fine. Always keenly interested in medical realities, he took meticulous notes on his condition and described the surgery in the margins of one of his medical textbooks.
Laura Bridgman, officially the first deaf-blind person to be educated, became blind when she had scarlet fever at age two. Usually she was photographed with her school's trademark green ribbon across her eyes, or opaque glasses, but there are a couple of medical shots without them. It takes you a minute to realize you are looking into empty sockets.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, American street gangs routinely carried, and used, eye gougers instruments designed to enable their user to rip an enemy's eyeball straight out of the socket in a fight. When this became general knowledge, public outcry pressured the corrupt lawmakers of the time to pass the word to their gangster allies that getting caught with a knife, gun or club could easily be fixed...but someone caught carrying an eye gouger could expect no help..
A (not necessarily easy to believe) story featured in a very old issue of the Mexican magazine "Semanario de lo Insólito" was about a boy named Ivan, who lived in the post-World War One Eastern Europe and was born without his eyes. The illustrations showed him as a normal kid... but with empty eye sockets.
An Italian war correspondent on the Eastern Front reported on seeing German soldiers fresh back from the Moscow offensive whose eyelids had frozen off. Unable to close their eyes, he noted how they were now "doomed to a lifetime of horror and madness".
Icepick Lobotomy. The fact that it was encouraged medical procedure... The very idea of sticking an icepick through an eye socket to reach for the frontal lobe is squick-abounding.
The reason for David Bowie's permanently-dilated eye — a childhood accident (either involving getting stabbed in the eye with a compass or alternately and more tamely, being punched in the eye in a fight over a girl by someone with a class ring...) that did permanent damage to his pupil, essentially locking it in the "on" position.
An 11-year-old in China took an arrow through the eye.
Bugsy Siegel's death by gunfire included the charming note that one of the bullets knocked his eye out as it exited his head. The report provided part of the Real Life basis for the Moe Greene Special, as depicted in the Godfather films.
Man gets water tap lodged in eye... and has a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when he pulls out the tap himself with no damage to his eye or brain (he did get a few fractured bones though).
Dan Bigley, who had his eyes ripped out in a bear attack in 2003.
R&B singer Houston gouged his own eye out in 2005.
Ron Hunt, a Truckee, California construction worker, accidentally drilled through his right eye and out the side of his skull with an 18-inch long 1.5 inch diameter drill bit. He tossed the power drill away when he fell on a 6-foot ladder. Not far enough unfortunately, since he landed face first on it.
This page (warning: contains pictures). For those that can't read French, it's about the execution of eye-for-an-eye justice in Iran, for those who'd blinded another. They tie the condemned down, give local anaesthetic, and pull out his eyes using pliers. While he's awake and conscious. If that doesn't make your stomach churn, you're either a doctor or a robot.
Jack Elam, who as a child had his eye pierced by a pencil thrown by a classmate. The eye was left dead but intact, and he got quite a good career as a movie heavy, often hired due to the unsettling effect of only one of his eyes moving.
This pensioner in Germany's Stuttgart after getting hit by a water cannon while protesting a building project. Protip: That's not his skin bulging out there.
In 1980, Matthew Conway-Beeby - a 20 year old schizophrenic - committed suicide by taking two dinner knives, stabbing his eyes, and then pounding his head on the ground until the knives penetrated his brain.
Nobel Laureate K. Barry Sharpless lost an eye in a lab explosion in 1970. A first person account of the accident may be found here.
During the Papin sisters' murder of their mistresses in 1933 in Le Mans, France, they pulled out their victims' eyes. When the police broke in, one of the first things they found was an eyeball sitting on a stair. Read all about it.
Luis Salazar, then a coach for the Atlanta Braves, got hit directly in the left eye by a batted ball during 2011 spring training in Orlando, Florida. He ultimately lost the eye.
The highly publicized Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound saw this happen to the terrorist leader himself. Sources say that during the shootout and immediately after a hit to the chest, a bullet hit just above his left eye - effectively shooting it out (and causing other significant damage to his head). If the hit to the chest wasn't a fatal wound, then that certainly was.
This story about a holidaymaker who had his right eye pecked out by a gannet.
In Fort Collins, Colorado, a couple teenagers went driving with a paintball gun and shot people with it. Among their victims was a girl who was shot in the eye. Turns out there's a reason you wear goggles in paintball.
A woman profiled on the series Bizarre ER, who got an itch while in her garden and rubbed her eye. The *next morning* it was a swollen mass of pus and infection because she'd contracted necrotizing fasciitis and her eye and eye socket were being eaten by it. Antibiotics and removal of the infected tissue saved the eye, though she later needed surgery to fix the scar tissue that had fused the lids shut.
Sergei Filin, then-director of the Bolshoi ballet, had sulphuric acid thrown on his face by some thugsnote apparently hired by one of the Bolshoi top dancers.. His severe injuries include extreme eye damage that may leave him fully blind.
During the filming of Maximum Overdrive, the director of photography lost his eye from splinters when a remote-controlled lawnmower accidentally struck a piece of wood. He later sued the film's director Stephen King (and they settled out of court).
Robert Berdella, a Serial Killer who tortured and murdered six men in The Eighties, once tried to gouge out a victims eye "to see what would happen". He also injected drain cleaner into his victims eyes.
A prisoner in California was denied care for glaucoma and access to his medication for months. Finally, the pressure in his eyes built up so severely that his left eye exploded.
Pollen can be this, if you're allergic to it. Stinging, redness, watery eyes, sometimes all day long. It can temporarily blind you.
There are moose botflies that might mistake human eyes for elk nostrils and can cause pain in the eyes.
The special "101 Things Removed From the Body". Its sequel "101 More things Removed from the Body". All with real photographs and some with real archive video footage. One was a lead pipe through the eye. (None of the characters from Clue were involved.) Not a good idea to eat while watching.
There is an actual cosmetic ocular implant now, called Jewel Eye that allows one to get small shapes implanted just beneath the external surface membrane, allowing one to have a little silver heart/moon/whatever swimming in their sclera. It featured in the show NCIS — with a microchip.
Lasik surgery. Where they shoot lasers into your eye. And you're awake. Many modern ophthalmic procedures, both laser-based (PRK, LASIK, LASEK, Nd:YAG capsulotomy, panretinal photocoagulation, etc) and incisional (cataract extraction/IOL placement), fall into this category. The patient is given local anesthetic drops, and usually a mild sedative, but otherwise remains awake and alert for the procedure. Given the alternative (insert a long needle behind the eye, inject an anesthetic and a paralytic agent, and then use a suture tied around one of the extraocular muscles to move the eye around), this is considered by most to be an improvement.
There are many, many videos on Youtube of various eye surgeries, implanting glass eyes, people removing their glass eyes, etc. On one hand, great for research. On the other hand, they're naturally quite candid and graphic, and some of the comments could make you feel a bit ill.
Trachoma. Caused by a species of Chlamydia bacteria. Scarifies the corneas of its victims, potentially leading to Milky White Eyes. Can be sexually transmitted. May this be a lesson to all those who say that it's masturbation that leads to blindness. This is what caused Annie Sullivan (Helen Keller's teacher) to go blind, although a series of operations restored her to partial sight.
Coloboma, a defect in the iris that can cause one's eyes to resemble cat eyes.
After a while you learn to suppress the blink reflex, and become aware that your eyes do not go squish when you touch them and won't burst at the slightest pressure. But until then you're holding your eye open, often with your fingers, while every instinct tells you to close it, and sticking your finger in there.
Then comes the fun when a contact lens gets put on inside-out or with a contaminant on it. Trying to remove it is painful. Leaving it in is painful. Rubbing at your eyes makes the pain go away for a little while, but will just make it worse when you stop...
Do not handle your contact lenses if you've been cooking with hot peppers recently. See below why.
Just try touching your own eyeball (preferably with clean fingers). It's amazing how much you can squick people out.
Little kids can gross out other kids and adults by turning their eyelids inside out.
You can get tattoos anywhere on your body. Including your eyeball. Not many people do it, but it's possible. With a needle near the eye, a lot can go wrong.
There are a number of martial arts techniques designed to take advantage of exactly this trope. Let's just say they're not designed for competitions and leave it at that.
Capsaicin, found in chili peppers, is an irritant in moderate concentrations, toxic in high ones, and is the basis for incapacitants such as Mace and pepper spray. Capsaicin in the eye is very, very, painful, as anyone who has been maced or ground up chilis can tell you.
The Deadliest Mushroom melts your corneas if you look directly into the fireball. That is, if you yourself aren't melted by it.
Felix Baumgarter's suit camera during his record breaking skydive from the edge of space was on a 20 second delay in case his blood decided to come out of his eyes.
Photokeratitis (more commonly known as "snow blindness") is essentially a sunburn of the eyeballs, and is just as painful as that implies. It tends to happen to mountaineers who spend hours in direct sunlight surrounded by snow, hence the common name.
There is an urban myth that when you give a sneeze and do not shut your eyelids, your eyeballs pop out of your skull. It was debunked, but just the very idea is very squeamish and it freaked a lot of people out.
Sneezing without blinking can allow whatever microorganisms you're expelling from your respiratory passages to spread out as an aerosol and infect your eyes, which is why the blink-while-sneezing reflex exists in the first place.
In general, giving someone a black eye counts as a Downplayed Trope. It's painful, but at least it's not permanent. It also helps that usually the eye does not receive the direct impact.
Eyeball shots. People try to imbibe some booze through their eyes. It's a real practice, you can see it here.
If you plan on cycling at high speeds, bring some glasses or goggles. All it takes is one fly to the eyeball to floor you.