Beachgoer Lives With Fish Jaw In The Eye

Image credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2015

Nothing ruins a perfectly good day at the beach more than getting a fish bone stuck in your eyeball. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened with a 52-year-old tourist who visited the Red Sea in 2015. The beachgoer was taking a swim in the Red Sea when he bumped into a school of fish. What’s more, the man developed a droopy and swollen eyelid, not long after the incident. Moreover, the droopy eyelid and swelling did not go away even after a month later.

The 52-year-old tourist went to the doctor after his eye wasn’t recovering even after the passage of a month; imaging tests revealed an area of inflammation in his eyelid, called a granuloma. A granuloma is often found incidentally on either X-rays or imaging tests performed for various reasons. A granuloma is a small area of inflammation and is typically benign (noncancerous). Granulomas are commonly seen in the lungs, however, can occur in other parts of the body including the head, too. A granuloma is a defensive mechanism that keeps invaders, for example, bacteria from spreading. Common causes of granuloma include infections such as tuberculosis or histoplasmosis or an inflammatory condition called sarcoidosis. Granulomas often do not require treatment or follow up imaging tests in people without symptoms

However, it wasn’t till a surgery was performed to remove the granuloma that doctors found two tubular structures in the man’s eyelid. According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 2015, during the operation, two transparent tubular structures were also removed from the man’s eyelids. The doctor who treated the patient Dr. Wolf A. Lagrèze, of the Department of Ophthalmology at Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg in Germany said that he was “absolutely” surprised to find the foreign structures in the man’s eye. He assumed that the structures belonged to a fish since the patient had collided with fish in the water. According to a biologist who was called in to examine the strange specimens, the structures, as identified, were the jawbones of a halfbeak. A halfbeak is a type of fish that is commonly found in shallow coastal waters. The doctors stipulated that the fish jaws caused the eyelid of the man to droop because the beaks of the fish immobilized the muscles responsible for moving the eyelid and eyeball upward. Droopy eyelids aren’t painful, however, can block your sight. Moreover, to see better, you may even have to lift your chin and tip your head back. Similarly, you might even have to arch your eyebrows for lifting your lids. These moves may affect your head and neck over time. You can get it for several reasons, including an injury to the nerves that control your eyelid muscles. The injury weakens the ligaments and muscles that move your eyelid.

The patient underwent surgery to correct the issue and within three months of the surgery the man recovered completely. As published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the droopy-eyes swimmer could move his eyelid normally.

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Dr. Aiman Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor’s degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is an experienced freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the health industry. Skilled in general dentistry, she is currently working as an associate dentist at a private dental clinic in Karachi, freelance content writer and as a part time science instructor with Little Medical School. She has also been an ambassador for PDC in the past from the year 2016 – 2018, and her responsibilities included acting as a representative and volunteer for PDC with an intention to make the dental community of Pakistan more connected and to work for benefiting the underprivileged. When she’s not working, you’ll either find her reading or aimlessly walking around for the sake of exploring. Her future plans include getting a master’s degree in maxillofacial and oral surgery, settled in a metropolitan city of North America.


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