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During the last couple of weeks I have missed one of my email friends. I recently learned that this person has been to hospital three times, with treatment of a serious eye injury. Combine these: high speed rotary tool, dense hard material, no eye protection, face in a position to see the work. What is possible with this scenario?


Please be smart, and protect your most valuable assets for your work; your sight, your hearing, your hands...

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  • 11 months later...

Here's to a needle in the eye A cautionary Tale

(originally posted January 4th, Im all better now)


I am sitting in a dark room with my graphical user interface altered to black and dark grays, A bottle of Gatifioxacin Ophthalmic Solution, one pupil artificially dilated, a hole in my eye and a few pointers on avoiding this particular situation.


I love what I do and where I work, I live within a firestorm of flying incandescent metal. Everyone has both eye and ear protection on at all times. We are all very aware of exactly where we send those sparks flying, but sometime the unexpected occurs. In my case I got a ricochet off a table and up behind my safety glasses. The trajectory was roughly parallel to my face. Here is the first important fact.


1. More often than not cold steel particles will bounce off an eyeball, but hot or warm particles will immediately suck up to an eyeball


Dr Wescom explained that to me just an hour ago, most of the metal particles he picks out of eyeballs where hot. If they are hot the trajectory is immaterial.


In the roll up to Christmas we where very busy forging and fabricating a 12 foot tall wrought steel grill double door. We are going to close the shop till Jan 3rd. On Christmas eve I get a bit of something in my eye and first blink it off, finish the grind, then flush it and take a look in the mirror. Looks clear to me.


Over the holidays my eye gets irritated by smoke and hot air, progressively worse as the day grows older but all better again each morning. Back in the shop yesterday Im talking with our lead smith and ask about what you do for a scratched eyeball. This leads us to the second important lesson.


2. Don't rely on self examination


"Its off to the hospital for you me boy, your going to get a dremel stuck in your eye" (well that was more or less the gist of what he said, with alot more lurid details.) He spotted what I couldn't a bit of metal at the very edge of the cornea.


At the ER after the prerequisite examinations to insure I don't keel over dead on the way to the examination room, the diagnosis is confirmed. My eye is first numbed with a few drops of Tetracain, and then the attempt to remove the particle with a Q-tip, which fails.


My eye has started to grow up onto the particle. So luckily the next step works, a hypodermic needle with a little negitive pressure sucks the particle off. But, there is a rust ring. Bringing us to the third important lesson.


3. When it comes to an eye injury, don't suck it up. Time makes it worse.


So off my Doc goes to find the dremel, we are going to grind that bit of your eyeball off before the rust is permanently incoporated into the cornea as its not very transparent. As it turned out they didn't have the grinder needed and she said it was really more like a buffing job. So off I go to the optometrist the next town over, where examined once more, numbed and with my head in another nifty vise I end up with a very small needle picking bits of rust contaminated cells from my eye. I never did get to see that eye dremel tool, but the vise was nice. :P


Bringing us to the last important lesson.

4. Safety glasses are nice and all, but they ain't goggles


seems like a good day to rewire the basement in the dark.


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