what would happen if I cut off my eyelids?

from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea

“In other story, which spread along with buddhism, Bodhidharma is credited with discovery of tea. Bodhidharma, a semi-legendary Buddhist monk, founder of the Chan school of buddihism, journeyed to China. When angered because falling asleep during meditation, he cut off his eyelids. Tea bushes sprung from the spot where his eyelids hit the ground.”

What would actually happen if you cut off your eyelids? Would it prevent you from falling asleep? Would you quickly go blind if you couldn’t blink? Has this ever happened to someone?

  1. It will hurt a lot
  2. You will bleed a lot
  3. You will likely get an infection from the wounds
  4. Your eyes will dry out
    Then it will get worse.

There is a medical condition where some babies are born without eyelids. Before leaving the hospital plastic sugeons emplant some using left over skin from circumcisions.
Only problem is those kids grow up to be cockeyed.

GROAN!:smiley: (PK runs from SDMB members wielding pitchforks & torches).

Actually, I’ve thought about the OP before, after watching the movie Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Chevy Chases’ character makes a statement that he can’t sleep because he can see through his eyelids (they’re invisible).

I would think eventually your body/brain would go into a sort of shut down and you would fall into a restless sleep. But all in all having no eyelids would probably be horrible!

My! Wouldn’t that be attractive? :eek:

More likely than a cut on another part of your body?

I disagree with this. I think your brain would have no trouble shutting the visual input the same way it shouts out sound and other senses while you sleep. I imagine it would take time to get used to but eventually would not cause serious sleep problems. You could always wear a sleep mask or something anyway.

Dry eye problems and infection would be more serious, but perhaps managable with frequent regular eye drops and other medications. It would certainly suck a great deal, and I can think of better ways to get some tea.

I’d expect a hearing to determine the degree of your mental instability and whether you should be committed. A very brief hearing.

Here’s an excerpt:

ATTORNEY: Your honor, the State feels this person is a danger to himself and others.

JUDGE: What’d he do?

ATTORNEY: Cut off his own eyelids. Then…

JUDGE: You had me at “eyelids.” Please make sure the straitjacket is secure.

I wondered about this after reading Larry McMurtry’s Comanche Moon. One character, Captain Inish Scull, has his eyelids removed by indian captors yet continues on for some time afterwards. Color me :dubious:

Snakes and fish don’t have eyelids, but they seem to be able to sleep just fine. My WAG is that your eyes would dry out and you would go blind, but I’m no optometrist.


IIRC, the character invented some contraption that would help keep his eyeballs moister and tried to have eyelids grafted on (I think that part didn’t work very well LOL).

I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned the character in “Hannibal” that is hell-bent of revenge for Hannibal’s getting him to cut off his own eyelids (among other things).

On the other hand, snakes (and other eyelidless reptiles) can and do lick their own eyes, in lieu of blinking. Fish and amphibians, of course, have more to worry about than dry eyes if they’re too far from water.

People whose eyelids have been burned off in fires or chemically use drops or ointments to keep them moist. They can make new ones, but I forget what part of the body they use to do it. I saw this on Discovery Health. Actually, it was a baby born without eyelids (or much else in the way of a face).

Technically, it might be a bit more accurate to say that a snake never opens its eyes. A snake’s eyes are protected by a single clear scale, called the brille, which is formed from the fusion of the embryonic eyelids and is shed periodically along with the rest of the skin. Many gecko species have a similar arrangement, and use their tongue to keep the brille clean as **Speaker for the Dead ** mentions; however, I’m not aware of any snake species that do the same. The snake tongue is pretty much exclusively a sensory organ, to my knowledge.

I read a book called Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants. The author is (or maybe was) a doctor who worked extensively with leprosy patients in India for a long time. He discovered that leprosy bacteria damage the nerves in some parts of the body, causing pain sensations from the afflicted parts to cease, and that is the way leprosy inflicts its infamous “body parts fall off” damage – small injuries that would normally be protected and treated go unnoticed, and accumulate, and bad things happen.

One of the frequent injuries he noticed was eye injuries, ranging from minor infections to permanent blindness. It turned out that the eye nerves were being damaged, and the patients were not feeling any discomfort in their eyes which would normally signal the urge to blink. Without any blinks, the eyes would dry out, gather dirt and dust particles, get scratched up, and eventually infections would set in. The eventual result was blindness.

So I would imagine that, sans lids, your eyes would suffer much the same fate … if you couldn’t do anything to fix them. They tried a number of methods to treat this in the leprosy patients, including regular applications of eyedrops, but it didn’t work out very well. But that was because the leprosy patients couldn’t feel when they needed drops. I bet it would be easy to tell when to put drops in, if your eye nerves were intact. But I wonder how often you’d have to put drops in to keep your eyes moist. And you wouldn’t be able to blink to clear out dust and dirt … you’d have to rinse them out. Man, that would be very inconvenient.

Oh, and on the subject of getting to sleep without being able to close your eyes, I once read about experiments where they clamped a few subjects’ eyes open, then flashed strobe lights at them every few seconds and had them click a button every time they saw the light flash. The people would be clicking merrily along and then suddenly stop, indicating that they had fallen asleep. The purpose of the experiment wasn’t to see if people could fall asleep without closing their eyes, it was to see if you lose consciousness gradually or all at once, but it still indicates that you can sleep just fine with your eyes open, even if a bright light is flashing in your face. If anybody cares, I can look up the original reference.

My lumping geckos and snakes together could easily have happened, as sad as that sounds. Thanks for the correction, Terrifel.