Losing your eye

Discussion in 'Research' started by TheokinsJ, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. TheokinsJ

    TheokinsJ Lore Master

    In medieval times, was losing your eye a big deal? I know it would have been very painful but would you live? In my WIP, my main character loses his eye (well, he doesn't lose it, but someone slashes his face and it cuts his eyeball), would he live through such a wound? Would it become infected and result in death? What was the usual treatment for such a wound?
  2. Aosto

    Aosto Mystagogue

    The chance of infection would be very very high. I can't comment on any medical procedures they would have used though.
  3. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

    Related question: assuming the person lives through it, how would their depth perception and such be affected?
  4. Butterfly

    Butterfly Dark Lord

    I'd assume, due the era, they'd be experienced enough and willing enough to use a red hot iron poker in such a situation and cauterise out the injured eye along with the infection. Might be a bit messy though, and noisy, but likely, the patient would be well drunk by then, or bopped on the head by a friend.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

    Cauterize. Risk of trauma and shock. Depends on nature of the wound. When someone was intentionally blinded it was usually by smashing or even scooping out the eye, then cauterizing. Bandaging such a wound was just inviting infection. This was done to those unfortunate enough to be a failed claimant to the Byzantine throne, for example, where the idea was not to kill them (which was sinful) but to make them so they would be neutralized as a rival.

    OTOH, taking an arrow to the eye is an altogether different matter!

    Oh, and depth perception is definitely affected. You aren't allowed to drive with sight in only one eye for this reason. A one-eyed man could still be a farmer, but his career as an artillery spotter would be over. :)
    TheokinsJ likes this.
  6. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Dark Lord

    Xiahou Dun plucked the arrow out and swallowed his eye off it.

    That was in like 200 AD. So yeah, people can live through it. (Oh, and although the eating of it was probably fiction, he really did get his eye shot out and lived through it).
  7. wordwalker

    wordwalker Dark Lord

    Depth perception loss means quite a bit. Not only does it play holy hell with any chance of using ranged attacks, it takes effort just to learn to pick up a mug without knocking it over.

    Then there's the massive blind side you've just picked up-- and that anyone looking at you can see is your weakness. A nervous character (or just one on a busy street) is going to spend a lot of time glancing to that side, and positioning himself along walls or on the "safe" side of a friend.
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

    BTW, you can easily discover for yourself what affect being one-eyed would have. Just make a patch and wear it for a day. Not while driving, please!
    Ireth likes this.
  9. Daichungak

    Daichungak Master

    Losing an eye does not result in the loss of your depth perception. A close friend of mine lost his eye (shrapnel) and his depth perception is fine. According to him the biggest annoyance is the huge blind spot.
  10. Kevlar

    Kevlar Lore Master

    Most states/provinces do actually allow you to drive with one functioning eye, as far as I'm aware, though restrictions may apply or a handicapped certificate may be handed out. In fact, if memory serves, the FAA has licensed thousands of one-eyed pilots. Losing an eye does not have nearly as much effect on depth perception as one might expect. There is actually a whole host of things that tip us off as to how near or far something is, and the vast majority are discernible with monocular (that is, one-eyed) vision. Details:


    Of the three most important cues only one requires binocular vision. So while your depth-perception will be impaired it will still work at an acceptable level in most instances.

    The bigger concern would be, as wordwalker pointed out, the blind-spot. Look straight ahead and place your hand or a flat object perpendicular to your head in such a way that you can only just see it out of your peripheral vision on one side. Now close the eye on that side and adjust your hand until you can see it again. By my estimate that's about ninety degrees lost in your horizontal field of vision. You can probably still judge distances with pretty good accuracy having one eye closed, but if someone threw a ball (or as would be the case with many of our characters - a knife) at the side of your head you would probably get pegged.
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  11. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Dark Lord

    Losing an eye does indeed result in a loss of depth perception. The whole reason for our having binocular vision positioned forward on our heads is for the sake of improved depth perception. Note that herbivores, who have binocular vision positioned on either side of their heads, have poorer depth perception than predators and omnivores (like us) and actually cannot see directly in front of their faces. That is because we are specialized to seek out prey (and socialize intimately) and herbivores need to be able to scan as much of their surroundings as possible all at once.

    Now, having said that, it is possible to compensate for the loss of depth perception, which is probably what your friend is either consciously or, more likely, unconsciously doing. Engage in a simple experiment. Take two objects of equal size and, while your eyes are closed, have someone position one about a foot closer to you than the other. Now open one eye. You can tell which object is closer automatically not because you still have depth perception, but because the closer object is bigger than the further one. You know this instinctively. The brain itself can also make dramatic compensations for sensory losses, such as compensating for surprisingly large blind spots, which your friend may also be experiencing.
  12. Trick

    Trick Dark Lord

    I can't speak from personal experience about this and not specifically about the human experience but I have a lot of experience working with dogs and a one eyed dog is an interesting animal. They can be the nicest, most obedient pet ever but if you approach them from their blind-spot they are likely to lash out. With their powerful senses of hearing and smell they know someone/thing is there and their insticts tell them to be wary and possibly attack. I've heard of people having certain senses compensate for the loss of another sense so I imagine that one might become more attuned to hearing and that sixth sense of human presence on the side missing an eye.

    On another note, I once saw a woman with one eye and one arm get in a car and drive away. I was fascinated by the human ability to overcome physical obstacles and live a life that is barely more restricted than my own. Perhaps they don't feel that way all the time and I'm sure there are lots of issues to deal with when one's body is permanently damaged but I am impressed when I see how so many people with injuries and physical handicaps have overcome them through force of will.
    TheokinsJ likes this.
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