1. A Glowing Iris
When a 44-year-old American man turned up at an eye clinic in an attempt to set up with a new doctor after a recent move, the ophthalmologist observed a strange and extremely rare symptom - the man's eye seemed to emit a glow, with many subsequent people even pointing out that the man's eye looks a lot like the ominous Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings.
Cultural references aside, though, the man faced a serious rare disorder that caused the eye pigment in his eye to flake off as a result of ocular pressure abnormalities and a clogged eye drainage. The rare disease is called pigment dispersion syndrome, and it's very rare in adults past the age of 30. Long story short, a combination of laser therapy and eye pressure medication ultimately helped restore the eye pigment in the man's eyes.
2. Blue Blood
In a "surprising" turn of events, it turned out that it isn't aristocracy that causes blue blood, but a rare medical issue called methemoglobinemia, a blood condition when red blood cells cannot release all the oxygen to the cells. The excess oxygen turns the blood a dark blue color, and patients, like the 25-year-old woman from Rhode Island who was taken to the emergency room with complaints of shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, and a bluish skin hue.
Methemoglobinemia can be hereditary or a side effect of medication, and in this case, it was likely the numbing cream she applied liberally to treat a toothache that caused the condition. The condition was treated with methylene blue, a medication that can typically reverse the condition in a matter of hours.
3. Feather Duvet Lung
A 43-year-old Scottish man was suffering from a persistent lower respiratory infection for 3 months that didn't respond to treatment. The man was experiencing difficulty breathing and fatigue, especially when he was at home. A specialized blood test revealed that the inflammation in his lungs was caused by irritation due to exposure to duck or chicken feathers, which made doctors realize that the man was suffering from a rare condition called feather duvet lung.
This condition occurs when a person develops an allergic reaction to bedding, which causes chronic inflammation. After switching to hypoallergenic bedding, the man experienced a rapid improvement in symptoms.
4. Drunk Without Alcohol
When a 46-year-old man claimed he didn't drink any alcohol despite having extremely high alcohol levels after turning to the doctor with complaints about inexplicable brain fog and aggressiveness, the doctors didn't believe him, as what he described looked just like an episode of drunkenness.
Eventually, it turned out that the man was right, and his symptoms were the result of an extremely rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), which can occur when certain gut microorganisms transform carbohydrates from food into alcohol, essentially producing alcohol internally. In this man's case, a specific kind of yeast in his gut was turning carbs into alcohol, and treatment of antibiotics killed the booze producing bugs, and over time, he could resume eating carb-rich foods without feeling drunk.
5. A Fire in the Chest
"Having a fire in the chest" is an expression we typically use metaphorically, but in the case of one patient undergoing open-heart surgery, doctors actually ended up having to put out a literal fire in his chest as a result of a rare complication.
The combination of supplementary oxygen and an electrocautery device used to prevent bleeding sparked a fire on the surgical gauze. Saltwater was promptly used to quickly extinguish the fire, and luckily, the patient wasn't injured, but we can't imagine the shock everyone in the operation room must have experienced upon witnessing the situation.
6. Too Much Wasabi Caused Heart Damage
When a 60-year-old woman in Israel was attending a wedding, she confused avocado with wasabi, and ended up eating a large quantity of the Japanese horseradish. Only a few minutes later, she suddenly felt pressure in her chest, which was radiating into her arms.
The following day, the woman was diagnosed with broken-heart syndrome, a condition that usually occurs after massive emotional or physical stress and manifests itself through the enlargement and weakening of the left ventricle, which greatly increases one's risk of heart events and stroke.
The condition is usually temporary, and the woman recovered in a month, although she did have to take heart medications during this time.
7. A Blinding Diet
If anyone is still looking for proof that junk food is bad for you, here is a prime example. By the age of 17, a British teen was diagnosed legally blind, all because of his poor eating habits. A picky eater, the teen ate nothing but fries, chips, white bread, sliced ham, sausages and other kinds of junk food for years, and by the age of 14, he developed a vitamin B12 deficiency, which developed into hearing and eyesight problems by the age of 15.
The symptoms developed because the lack of the vitamin can result in nerve damage, with the ocular nerve being affected quite often. The condition is permanent, but the teen managed to stop any further ocular degeneration after he started taking nutritional supplements.
8. A Walking Trip That Resulted in Eye Parasites
When retired anthropologist and public health researcher Dianne Travers-Gustafson took a morning jog in California, she had no idea a swarm of flies she had encountered on her way would infect her with an eye parasite. The woman was the second known person to be infected by cattle eye worm, as the parasites usually favor large cattle as their hosts.
Travers-Gustafson reported that her eyes were constantly watering, and upon closer inspection, using a magnifying mirror, the woman found three translucent worms moving around in her eyes. The worms were later removed by specialists with no permanent damage done to the woman's eyesight.
9. A Collapsed Iris
This is the reason why you should never let your kids play with rubber bands. This shocking sight is a collapsed iris, which happened as a result of an injury when a Taiwanese man was struck in his eye by a bungee cord. The resulting condition is called traumatic iridodialysis, and it happens when trauma causes the iris to be removed from a structure than it is attached to called the ciliary body. Eye surgery was required to reposition the iris back to its original position, and it has been reported that his pupil was restored and he experienced improvements in eyesight.
10. Urine That Turned Purple
Urine color is not the hottest topic of party conversations unless you're attending a urology convention, that is. The only exception we can think of is when urine suddenly turns a bright purple, which it did for a French woman after 10 days of hospitalization. The condition only occurs for patients using catheter bags, and it's known as the purple urine bag syndrome. The unusual color is created as a result of a chemical reaction between certain drugs and dietary ingredients in catheter bags.
Surely, purple urine must look quite alarming, but it is usually benign, although it can be a sign of a urinary tract infection. The French woman from the case report did not have a UTI, and after drinking more water for a few days, the urine color returned to normal.