Closeup of Sascha's eyes shortly after surgery Can you see me now? Good.

Eye, Eye, Captain

Here's a little story about what can go wrong with running experiments at home. Twenty years ago I played with a stink bomb. For most people the fun seems to lie in breaking the bottle and releasing the odor to someone else's space. For me, the fun was in holding it over a candle. The cool thing about it is that the bottle turns black from the candle's soot. Even cooler are the bubbles. Little did I know about the forces building up inside.

So one day the thing blew up in my face. The stink bomb exploded and a piece of it shot into my left eye. It didn't hurt, but it was rather disturbing to see the center of the eye bleeding in the mirror.

There were some surgeries and then a few more, but my vision was incredible given what had happened. For some reasons black light made me nuts. It scattered all around in the eye. Good things came of it too. I was drafted for the Bundeswehr, but they quickly discovered it might cost them a fortune to fix me up in case something stupid would happen to my eye. I was given the option to be discharged and I gladly took that opportunity.

Over the years the piece made itself seen from time to time. When it was in my field of view, it covered about 10 percent of it. No big deal, all I had to do to get rid of it were some acrobatic motions. Starting in 2002, however, the piece started to come to me daily. It became a nuisance, especially when I tried to read.

At my next routine eye exam I learned it was more than that: It was dangerous. The piece moved closely along the retina threatening to kaput it. My doctor advised me to not sleep on my back and to have it removed. I wasn't really thrilled about yet another surgery, but I could no longer sleep well knowing that I might loose the eye altogether.

On 2003-06-18 I had the piece successfully removed. I drew the the piece the night before. The last and most accurate attempts as I thought at the time are the ones on the bottom.

Four drawings of the piece of glass done the night before surgery

After I woke up from the anesthesia, the piece was in a plastic jar and I could finally see it the way things are meant to be seen. It turned out to be about 6 mm large. Compare for yourself how precise my drawings were (the € 0.01 coin is slightly smaller than a U.S. penny):

Piece next to a € 0.01 coin for comparison

Here's another interesting picture. It shows the sliver being grabbed by some surgical tool in front of the beautiful background that is my retina.

Piece held by surgical instrument inside my eye

By the way, the picture at the top was taken four days after surgery. For the first two days, there was no white in my eye.