US & Canada

US gardener survives being impaled in eye with shears

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Media captionDoctors rebuilt Leroy Luetscher's eye socket with a titanium plate

An 86-year-old US man impaled through the eye socket with pruning shears in a freak gardening accident is expected to make a full recovery, doctors say.

Leroy Luetscher said he had been trimming plants in his yard in Arizona last month when he lost his balance and fell on the tool.

One handle of the shears went into his right eye socket and down to his neck, leaving the other resting on his face.

Surgeons were able to remove the shears and save Mr Luetscher's eye.

He dropped the tool, which landed point downward, while working in his backyard on 30 July.

'Lucky'

When the Wisconsin native bent down to pick up the shears, he fell face first and one handle impaled his right eye socket underneath his eyeball.

After the accident, the retired dairy industry executive managed to walk back into his home and ask his partner to call for help.

Image caption Leroy Luetscher has only some swelling under the right eye remaining from his injury

He said he is lucky to be alive.

"I didn't know if my eyeball was still there or what," Mr Luetscher told the Associated Press news agency. "I never had pain like that in all my life."

Lynn Polonski, a clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology, said the end of the handle inside Mr Luetscher's neck was resting on his external carotid artery.

The medical team made incisions underneath Mr Luetscher's right upper lip and sinus wall, allowing them manually to loosen the handle of the shears.

"Once we were able to loosen it up, it went fairly easily," Dr Polonski said.

The only injuries that remained from the accident after surgery were swelling and minor double vision in the affected eye, the University Medical Center in Tucson said in a news release.