Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eye popping

I'm back!

Yes, Dear Reader, it's been too long, and I can't promise regular updates now that classes are in full swing, but I just couldn't pass up today's weird anatomy news flash:

Man sets sights on eye-popping record

Sun Sep 17, 7:08 AM ET

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Claudio Paulo Pinto is looking to break an eye-popping record. Literally. Pinto can pop his eyeballs out of their sockets at least 7 millimeters (0.3 inches), a national record for eye-popping according to RankBrasil, an organization modeled after the Guinness Book of World Records that lists Brazilian records.

A former driver, Pinto got a job scaring visitors in a commercial haunted house in Belo Horizonte, 210 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. But he recently was laid off, and now he seeks international recognition for his ability.

"I was measured by an opthamologist on television in January. I could pop my eyes out 7 millimeters," Pinto said by telephone Saturday. "Since then, my capacities have improved over 50 percent."

That could put Pinto close to the record. The title of "furthest eyeball popper" in the Guinness Book of World Records currently belongs to Kim Goodman of Chicago, who can pop her eyeballs 11 milimeters (0.43 inches) out of her sockets.

Pinto's ability is called "globe luxation." Doctors say it can strain blood vessels and nerves between the eyes and the head and feels unpleasant but usually doesn't cause lasting damage.

Pinto says he's been luxating his globes since he was 9 years old and "it doesn't hurt a bit."

How bizarre is that? At first I didn't think it was anatomically possible, but seeing is believing. I first learned about the phenomenon when I read this blog entry by Dr. Bill Lloyd, an ophthalmologist in Sacramento, California. Dr. Lloyd notes that several of his patients have been able to pop their eyes, and that there "have been instances where the eyelids have slipped behind the eyeball and trapped it outside the orbit." Here, for example, is a case report I just found of a man whose eye "popped out of the socket" when he tried to insert a contact lens: Spontaneous Globe Luxation Associated with Contact Lens Placement (click here for the full text). Now I have another reason to stick with eyeglasses.

If static images aren't good enough for you, check out the video below (and if that still isn't enough, go to YouTube and search for "eye pop"):