How long can eyeballs go without blinking?

I watched the Italian giallo film Short Night of Glass Dolls a few days back. It concerns a man who is drugged into total paralysis and everyone thinks he’s dead, but he’s really alive and conscious. His eyes are open and he literally does not blink for hours.

So is there an eye doctor in the house? What would happen to eyes that were put in this situation in real life? Would they dry out enough over time to cause permanent blindness?

Scientologists practice a routine where they do not blink for hours. The smallest motion causes them to “flunk” the test and start over. This is how they get that glassy stare.

I guess if we had epidemiological studies of eye disease in Scientologists vs. a control group we might learn some answers, but Scientologists do not participate in medical studies because they believe that all disease is caused by dead space aliens pretending to be your liver.

Anyway, to be less flippant, since the Scientologists I see around here don’t walk with canes or guide dogs, a few hours of keeping your eyes open does not appear to have permanent deleterious effects, although I wouldn’t make a practice of it.

God i love giallos, there’s always something weird in them like this.

Do not experiment with “A Clockwork Orange” lid-locks unless you make sure to hydrate the eyes at regular intervals. Just ask Malcolm McDowell

“”‘When you put on these lid locks, you are not blinking. Every twelve seconds, a doctor had to put drops of artificial tears into my eyes. But then Stanley [Kubrick] came and gave the doctor a line of dialogue. He was supposed to say: ‘Hello little Alex, how are you feeling today?’ But he was a doctor, not an actor. So he got completely obsessed with the dialogue, and forgot about putting in the drops. So I thought I was going blind, because the damned doctor has a line of dialogue.’

But McDowell’s ordeal continued: ‘On my way home, the anesthesia wore off. We hit a pothole, and suddenly the pain hit me. It was worse than giving birth. Turned out that I had scratched my cornea. I had to get a doctor, who gave me morphine. And then Stanley came to me, and said: ‘I need another shot with the lid locks’. I was terrified. I tried to have my stand-in do it. But Stanley wouldn’t have it. Then I thought he had forgotten about it. But when we got to the last day, he finally remembered: ‘We got to do the eyes’. So he made me do it again, and of course, I scratched my cornea again!’"

I thought it came from being forced to watch Tom Cruise movies! :eek: <- yeah - like that!

In the book Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, the author, who spent decades treating lepers in India and was the first to definitively prove that leprosy causes the damage it does by destroying the pain-sensing nerves and thus causes victims to inadvertently destroy their own digits and whatnot without even realizing it, describes how they were confused about why so many of the people they were treating were going blind and had chronic eye problems.

They finally figured out that the people who were going blind were ones who had lost the sensation of pain in their eyes (the bacteria that causes leprosy lives in, and eventually destroys, the nerves in the cooler parts of the body like the fingers, toes, nose, eyes, face, etc.) and didn’t blink. It would take months, but eventually the damage would build up until they went blind.

They couldn’t find a very satisfactory solution for this, unless the patients were EXTREMELY responsible about putting in eye drops and forcing themselves to blink at regular intervals. The best treatment they found was suturing the eyelids almost shut so that the tears would coat the exposed portion of eyeball and keep the eye surface clean, but that obviously had ramifications with their ability to see.

Pretty gruesome. Interesting book, even though it’s a few decades old and probably out of date by now as far as its science goes.