Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Don't Eyeballs Freeze...?

Did you ever wonder about something like that? I mean, it's a fair question, right?

Well, it turns out that there's a good reason why eyes don't freeze. That is if you can believe the guys over at KnowledgeNuts where I found this article. Besides, it's important to know this kind of stuff, although I really can't think of the reason why right now!

Why Eyeballs Don’t Freeze At Subzero Temperatures
By S. Grant on Saturday, July 12, 2014

If our hands, toes, noses, and other body parts are susceptible to freezing and getting frostbitten, it might seem unusual that our eyeballs can survive the cold totally unprotected. But, unlike other bodily extremities, the eyes are constantly pumped with a strong supply of warm blood—even in the coldest situations. Furthermore, our eyes are nestled rather deeply in our heads where bone, tissue, and fat also help keep them warm. Essentially, it’s virtually impossible for the eyes to freeze as long as they are inside a warm, functioning body.

Any time the weather drops below freezing, people quickly don their heavy coats, scarves, and other layers. Yet, for the most part, no one worries about keeping their eyes warm. Even Inuits, Siberians, and Antarctic explorers, who regularly wear Michelin Man–esque clothing, leave their eyeballs exposed. If anyone does put on glasses or goggles, it is mostly to protect their eyes from snow glare or wind—not from the cold. So, what is it exactly about the eyeball that seems to make it immune from freezing?

Although it seems to defy logic that the wet, soft tissue of the eye wouldn’t immediately freeze when the thermometer drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, in truth, the explanation is quite simple. Our eyes don’t ice over because they are almost entirely encased in our warm, well-regulated heads. They are positioned more than halfway inside our noggins and protected by insulating bone, muscle, fat, and eyelids.

Making the eye even less likely to freeze is the fact that it’s filled with numerous blood vessels which continually heat it up with the hot blood from our bodies. In fact, the primary blood source to the eye is the ophthalmic artery, which is a branch off the same, deep artery that supplies the brain. When in cold surroundings, the body diverts even more blood to the brain (and other vital organs) which, in turn, helps keep eyes even warmer.

Because tears are saltwater, they are also resistant to freezing; however, they can solidify in extreme cold and possibly “gum up” the eyelids. Even so, the eye itself will be unaffected. Basically, our eyes will only naturally freeze after our bodies are dead and cold.

That being said, it is technically possible to freeze the eye through unnatural means. There is a medical procedure known as retinal cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze a portion of the eye for the purpose of treating retinal breaks and detachments.

Why is it important to know this st5uff? Like I said, I really can't think of a good reason right now, unless you want to be a champion Trivial Pursuit Player. Sometimes answers to this type of question just come in handy!

Coffee out on the patio today. It's hot but dry!


Linda said...

I never wondered about my eyes freezing, but now I have something to ponder.

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda...
Just wanted to give you something to think about. I wonder if the polar bears know all this stuff?

Thanks for dropping by this morning!

Mamahen said...

Wow.....the things we DON'T think about, until someone mentions them lol. Interesting post. Patio sounds fine....Anyone care for an Oreo?

Chickenmom said...

Good one! Never, ever thought about that before, Mr. Hermit. Coffee and Oreos are a great way to start the day!

linda m said...

I am now prepared for the next time I play Trivial Pursuit. that was really interesting. With it being summer I never wondered why. But this last winter I surely thought I would freeze completely.

Sixbears said...

Sometimes I think it gets cold enough up here to freeze eyeballs.

JO said...

Now there is something I never gave a thought too either. Good one.

I'm ready for a refill please. Then off on a road trip. Yippee!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Cold air may not freeze them, but it sure makes them water. It has been a long time since I have been in weather that cold. Way back when, I froze a foot. For a long time, that foot was the first thing on my body to feel the cold.