This Is Why Teachers Tell You Not To Throw Pencils In Class

BMJ Case Reports 2019

Of all the rules you should listen to in school we'd like to suggest that "don't throw stationery" is pretty near the top. Don't trust us? OK, let us tell you about a schoolgirl whose eye was impaled on a pencil by one of her classmates.

A 13-year-old girl from Manchester, England, was admitted to the emergency department of a hospital after a pencil that had been thrown from the front to the back of a classroom hit her. The incident left her with lead from the pencil (quite visibly) embedded in her eyeball, doctors write in BMJ Case Reports 2019.

"At first I had not realized what had happened until my friend said I think you have something in your eye," she said of the incident.

"A pencil had been thrown from the front of the classroom to the back where I had been standing chatting to my friends. A part of the pencil had gone into my eye which must have happened so quickly as I had not really felt anything."

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BMJ Case Reports 2019

After a CT scan, she was taken to the operating room to have the "foreign body" removed, which was done slowly using forceps. A secondary smaller fragment was removed by cutting at the surrounding tissue to get to it. Fortunately, the team found the lens and retina of her eye were still intact and the "entry wound" was then closed. After treating the wound with drops, and wearing an eyepatch to protect the eye, she recovered with no adverse effects.

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BMJ Case Reports 2019

"After the operation, I could not see much out of my left eye at all but gradually my sight seemed to improve," the unnamed patient wrote of her experience three years later when the case report was written. "I still have a few stitches in the back of my eye and also at the front but they do not affect me in any way."

If you're thinking: "OK, this is all horrible but there's no way I'm going to stop throwing pencils because I'm sure these injuries are rare," buddy, you are way off.

"According to the database surveillance period 2000–2002, it is estimated that 748 ocular pen injuries and 892 ocular pencil injuries of undetermined severity have occurred annually in the UK," the team note in the case report. In fact, "one in six of ocular perforation injury in children occurs when an object is thrown".

The girl, it seems, was one of the more fortunate ones.

"I was told that the pencil tip was just millimeters away from causing me instant blindness so I know how lucky I was," she said.

Apparently, she is now looking forward to starting driving lessons, something that wouldn't be happening if the pencil had hit just a few millimeters closer to the center of her eyeball.

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