Artist Ben Taylor drew a painting that featured “psychedelic colors and wormlike patterns inside a perfectly round circle.” Only later did he realize that he had parasitic worms in his eye, and he thinks they might have subconsciously inspired him. From The Durango Herald:
"I definitely believe that the worms had a hand in that painting,” he said, adding later: “When you kind of look into the nitty-gritty of how much of the human body actually contains your DNA versus the billions of different bacteria that live within us, you start realizing that you’re an ecology of beings that live within us.
He later adapted his painting to make it more obviously an eye infected by parasitic worms, and as a result it’s been chosen as the cover art for this month’s issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The Vision-Dieter glasses were weight-loss eyeglasses, created by Arkansas entrepreneur John D. Miller who sold them for $19.95 each. They had a different lens for each eye: one brown and the other blue. Miller claimed that the different colors caused a low-level of confusion in a person's subconscious that led to a loss of appetite, and thus weight loss. In 1982 the U.S. attorney stopped the sale of the glasses because Miller hadn't registered them with the Food and Drug Administration. Also, there was no evidence they actually worked as a diet aid.
FDA employee Karen Kowlok models Vision-Dieter glasses Newport News Daily Press - Mar 21, 1985
From the Wilmington News Journal - Aug 6, 1982:
[Miller] came upon the idea for the appetite-inhibiting lenses, he said, in one of his supermarkets. He noted that customers were attracted to shelves by certain colors. "If people could be controlled by one color," he thought, "they could be decontrolled by another."
Perhaps tinted eyeglasses could reverse the attraction to food by affecting the subconscious, Miller hypothesized. And he went to work.
The experiments began with employees of one of his enterprises, the Miller Vision Centers. Soon the research was extended to his patients.
At first, the results were mixed. He had chosen the wrong colors. Then he hit upon crimson brown and royal blue.
"It's crazy. I can't tell you exactly how, but it works," Miller said.
Soon testimonial letters were coming into Miller's office by the dozens. In virtually every case, people who wore the glasses said they weren't eating as much. He conducted control experiments with the help of a psychologist and claimed a 97 percent success rate.
In the early 1950s, Steven Warren opened the Foundation for Better Reading — a Chicago-based school that taught speed reading. One of the gadgets used in the school were these "eye-analyzers" that allowed an instructor to watch the eye movements of a student, and tell them when they were moving their eyes too much.
In September 1942, a young miner, Ronald Cutler, had finished his shift, so he blew his nose to get the coal dust out. His eye fell out onto his cheek. A superintendent was able to pop it back in, and Cutler appeared "little the worse for the occurrence."
News of the World - Sep 20, 1942
Kingston Daily Freeman - Oct 29, 1942
In April 1899, a similar case was reported in the Southern California Practitioner (which in turn got the story from a German-language paper, the Illinois Staatz Zitung). A glass blower blew his nose violently, and his right eyeball came out of its socket. A colleague was able to put it back in, but on the way to the doctor's office the same thing happened again... and then a third time at the doctor's office.
There's an old legend that if you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyeballs will come out. Mythbusters says that's not true, noting, "although a sneeze can erupt from your nose at an explosive 200 miles per hour, it can't transfer this pressure into your eye sockets to dethrone your eyeballs. Plus, there's no muscle directly behind the eye to violently contract and push the orbs outward."
How then do we explain these odd cases of eyeballs coming out when people blow their nose?
Update: I just found a third case of eyeball dislocation following nose blowing, reported by Dr. John Tyler of Kansas City in 1888. His patient, upon waking in the morning, "felt the need of a good, hard blow, and said he really was making an extra effort, when to his horror and amazement he felt his left eye pop right out between the lids, and stick!" His wife popped the eye back in, and the man suffered no apparent damage from the incident.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.