Eugene W. Phillips, 60, had been blind for 16 years. Then, in August 1972, he fell off his back porch, puncturing his back with a stick and hitting his head on the ground. But he also partially regained sight in one eye. His doctor concluded that the fall had jarred loose a membrane that had been covering the optic nerve.
We've reported a few cases on WU of people who have experienced accidental (and improbable) cures, such as the woman whose deafness was cured by a sneeze. One of the most famous examples of this phenomenon is the case of Edwin Robinson, who claimed that being struck by lightning cured him of his blindness and near-total deafness.
The lightning strike occurred on June 4, 1980 when he ventured outside of his home in Falmouth, Maine to rescue his pet chicken from the rain. After lying unconscious for 20 minutes, the 62-year-old Robinson awoke to find himself cured of the ailments that had plagued him since a road accident nine years earlier. An ophthalmologist who examined him, Dr. Albert Moulton of Portland, said: "There is no question but that his vision is back. He can't move his eyes, but his central vision is back... I can't explain it. I don't know who can. I know some of my peers in Washington, maybe, will say it's hysterical blindness. I can't see it. It couldn't have lasted this long. From the physical findings originally, he was definitely blind."
Edwin Robinson reads about his miraculous recovery
Later, Robinson even claimed that new hair had begun to grow on his bald head. He remarked to the NY Times, "I'm all recharged now, literally... It's coming in thick. My wife is all excited about it. I was bald for 35 years. They told me it was hereditary."
Los Angeles Times - July 5, 1980
Later, Timex took advantage of Robinson's fame to feature him in a 1990 ad. Although the messaging seems a bit confused. Once broken, but now miraculously fixed?
Also, it's hard to tell, but he doesn't seem to have a full head of hair. He must have lost it again.
The magazine Leisure debuted in 1963. It was distributed exclusively at barbershops and featured articles intended to be of interest to male readers, on subjects such as hunting, fishing, boating, camping, golf, skiing, travel, hobbies, photography, etc. But what made the magazine unique was that all the articles were printed in extra large type. This was so that barbershop customers who took off their glasses to get their hair cut could still read the magazine.
I’ve found several newspaper articles referencing the existence of this magazine, but I haven’t been able to find any copies of it archived anywhere. It doesn’t even appear in library databases.
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.
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.