Surfer Cures Eye Problem in Huge Wave

No surgery needed

Apr 11, 2014
Outside Magazine
Surfer eye Outside Magazine OutsideOnline

The surfer (far left) dunks his head while riding the wave in an attempt to cure his eye condition.    Courtesy of BMJ Case Reports

A 61-year-old surfer suffering from an eye condition that was causing him to lose his vision took matters into his own hands last month. On a 30-foot wave in Waimea Bay, Hawaii, the surfer dunked his head at top speed and reportedly washed his eye condition away.

Pterygium, which is often called "surfer's eye," is a common eye condition in people who spend lots of time outdoors. Bands of fibrous growth develop over the outer layers of the eye and can ultimately harm vision and require surgery.

"He momentarily dipped his face into the water while traveling at top speed but was able to recover his balance and continue surfing the wave," explained Dr. Thomas Campbell, who wrote the medical report. "This impressive maneuver resulted in the pterygium being ripped off his eye surface."

The surfer's eye was inflamed for a few days, but it quickly healed and his vision improved. Many doctors are doubtful of the surfer's methods and certainly aren't recommending it to their patients. Dr. Mark Fromer, a New York City–based ophthalmologist and the eye surgeon for the New York Rangers, expressed his concern: 

"I think it's possible he got some sort of blast to the eye that might have torn his conjunctiva. And the blood supply to the pterygium was interrupted, so maybe it died. … But it would take a heck of shot of water to do that. Pretty unlikely this is going to happen to anyone else."
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