When A Young Woman Got A Staple Penetrating Her Eye, This Is How We Treated Her

When A Young Woman Got A Staple Penetrating Her Eye, This Is How We Treated Her

Written by Dr. Larry

Don’t worry. This story has a happy ending. I met this young lady back in Feb 2019, and she requested that I post about her gnarly eye injury. Yes, that’s a staple poked in her eye (penetrating globe injury, we call it). She was sawing a piece of wood (without protective glasses ahem) that had a staple in it, and the saw shot the staple into her eye. She came in with severe eye pain, and we were worried she might lose some if not all of her vision.

My job as the ER doc is to diagnose how far and involved the eye trauma is. The best way to do this is a CT (or CAT) scan. You can see from those images that the staple does indeed penetrate the outer layers of the sclera (the white part) of the eye. Crazy to see that staple on her scan.

We medicated her with pain meds and eye drops. I consulted our local eye doctor (ophthomologist) who recommended transfer to a tertiary care hospital. She went from the Central Valley all the way to San Francisco, to UCSF. The ride took hours, and I know her eye was hurting by the time she got there.

Eye surgeons are specialists, and then there are eye surgeons that only do one kind of eye surgery (subspecialists). Some specialize in the retina, for example. She needed a team of eye surgeons on hand when removing the staple. What if I would have pulled it out and she would have bled inside the eye? They put in stitches on the surface of her eye, treated the eye with antibiotic drops to prevent infection, made sure the pressure in the eye was normal, the retina (back of the eye) was intact, etc.

My point–her care took a team, and a system, to save her eye.

And the final verdict?

20:20 vision. And that final pic of her eye with just a little bump to remind her she’s tough and a survivor. *Who can still see with both eyes. 😉

Very cool to be a part of taking care of people like this (won’t forget this one!) For all the criticism medicine and healthcare gets–sometimes, many times, we get it right.


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