If you touch an animal/person's eyeball and no reaction...

it/he/she is dead? How good is that test?
*assuming you’ve come upon such a body in circumstances which would indicate that something is not normal (e.g. I can touch my own eyeball; it doesn’t mean I’m dead)

I think eyeballs are not so sensitive, and it’s the lids that are especially sensitive. At least I heard this somewhere. I’m not testing it.

Not a good test. I could be unconscious or anaesthetised but still alive. Someone could be performing surgery on my eyeball and I wouldn’t flinch. Heck, I think even a decent local would do it.

Come to think of it, it wouldn’t surprise me if the occasional contact lens wearer could control their eye movements to the point where there is no reaction to gentle probing.

It could also be coma or nerve damage or a person who wears contacts and/or is messing with you. The corneal reflex (blinking reflex) is strong, but it can be overcome voluntarily.

Ok…let’s forget about people. Let’s say a dog. You find one seemingly dead. Is a touch to the eyeball a good test?

I think attempting to locate a pulse is a good test.

Are zombie pooches problematic in your area? Has your neighbor been recently talking to the old-timer about the ancient Indian burial ground down yonder? :smiley:

Pretty much like people, they can be alive but unresponsive. Checking for breathing or pulses is a better bet. Poking a dog in the face is a good way to get your hand ripped off.

In fairness to you guys I didn’t make my question specific, or emotional enough. My wonderful and faithful dog of 10 years died this afternoon. We were outside and he was playing and running like usual. I even commented, probably 4 minutes before about how well he could run at his age.

My sister pointed to him lying in the gravel driveway motionless. Not “I decided to take a nap” motionless, but “I fell down here and didn’t move” motionless. I ran out there and there was mild twitching. His eyes focused on me and his tongue flicked out of his mouth. I carried him to the soft grass. I placed my hand on his stomach and felt a weak heart beat. I asked my sister to get some water.

I talked to him and encouraged him to wake up. The water that arrived poured without a motion. I looked into his eyes and felt the life leave him. Yes, I know; there is no such feeling, but I felt it. His eyes glassed over. No more twitching. Still a faint heartbeat.

I’m not a vet or a medical doctor. I don’t know how to take a pulse. I kept encouraging him and tried more water. Nothing. And…no more heartbeat. I guess from watching too many movies, I gently placed by small finger in his eye. No response. I understood that to mean he was gone.

My daughter, who loves this dog more than anyone was inside. Again, from watching too many movies, I didn’t want to crush her soul without being sure. I waited a few minutes and was fairly sure. I touched the eyeball again. No moisture, but totally lifeless.

A long sad day later I asked the OP.

But I didn’t mean to make it a sad dog story. If the dog was alive, would he have responded to a poke in the eye? At least a flinch? Or can this be mythbusters-type busted?

Oh, I’m so sorry! Yes, given the circumstances, and especially the “no heartbeat”, it’s safe to assume he shuffled off this mortal coil in your arms.

And I don’t care what they say and you can call me woo and crazy all you want…yes, you can feel the life leave, particularly when it’s someone you love. Yes, you can, and you did, and that’s okay.

A person I used to know told me about how he had a call from a farm. It was the son in the family who said that his father appeared to have died in the privy and could the doctor come. When he arrived at the farm the father seemed to be very dead but he did some checks including touching the eyeball, telling the son that if it was hard it was a surefire proof that the person was dead. After that the two of them proceeded to get the father out of the toilet and the doctor grabbed hold of the upper, heavy part of the body. Unfortunately the deceased was too heavy so my friend lost his grip and the body fell to the ground which made the glass eye become loose and fall out.

No idea, but it’s the test the vet used when our cat had to be put to sleep.

With animals and humans, make sure that you’re touching the cornea–the clear part over the iris and pupil. The white of the eye isn’t all that sensitive, but the cornea is much more so. And if you’re only pretty sure they’re dead, you can use the corner of a rolled-up tissue to test.

It’s used by many hunters as a final test, if standing back and throwing rocks fails to get a response.