A 19-year-old student nearly went blind after a boiling pot of chocolate exploded in her face.
Samantha D’Aprile, from Chicago, Illinois, had been baking cookies with her mother in December 2021 when the pot shattered as she was hunched over it, launching boiling hot chocolate and shards of glass into her eyes.
She rushed to the bathroom and splashed water over her face, but her eyes quickly became swollen and her eyelids sealed shut. They remained sealed for five days, with doctors saying the damage was so bad it was as though someone had taken a ‘razor blade’ to them.
But Ms D’Aprile, who had perfect vision before the accident, has now had a ‘miracle’ recovery and is able to see perfectly again after resting at home. It comes after a teenager in Georgia was blinded in one eye when her hair dye tube exploded.
Ms D’Aprile, shown above after the accident, has made a full recovery and is back to her normal vision. Doctors described it as a ‘miracle’, and said that the moment when she splashed water on her face may have saved her eyes.
Doctors discharged her after two days in hospital so she could recover at home, but she needed to return every day for tests. On day five, Christmas Day, she managed to open her eyes again
Ms D’Aprile is pictured above during her time in hospital, and afterwards when she was able to open her eyes again.
‘When I found out my vision was almost gone, I said to the doctors I didn’t want to live anymore,’ Ms D’Aprile told DailyMail.com.
‘I was in such a dark place and I was going crazy for the few days I couldn’t see. I couldn’t picture the rest of my life like that.’
She added: ‘Going from having the perfect vision to the next day being told I could be blind for the rest of my life was the scariest thing I have ever been through and I couldn’t wrap my head around it.’
After the pot exploded in her face, Ms D’Aprile said her eyes felt like they were ‘on fire’ as they started to swell shut.
She was rushed to hospital by her mother but had to be moved to another unit after the one they went to said it did not deal with burns.
She said: ‘I was in so much pain that my body started to shut down, they gave me morphine which helped the pain and I could breathe again.
Samantha D’Aprile, 19, from Chicago, Illinois, was baking cookies with her mother in December 2021 when a bowl of boiling chocolate exploded in her face. Her mother rushed her to hospital, but she was unable to open her eyes for five days (Pictured above in hospital)
Ms D’Aprile, shown above with a friend, pictured before the accident. She rushed to the bathroom to splash water on her face when the chocolate pot exploded
Ms D’Aprile photographed in hospital after the injury. She suffered burns to her face as well as her eyes, which left her unable to see for five days
‘When I arrived at the hospital they rushed me right away to a room and did all sorts of treatments and tests on me.
‘At this point, my eyes were swollen shut, I couldn’t open my mouth because that was also burnt shut, and I was very high on all these medications.’
An examination revealed she had burned her cornea — or the transparent dome-shaped area at the top of the eye.
Her eyelids were also burnt.
Medics kept her in hospital for two nights to monitor her and administer treatment.
But Ms D’Aprile said the nights were ‘brutal’ and left her ‘unable to sleep’
She said: ‘I couldn’t sleep, and any sleep I did get I was woken up by nurses giving me medication and them prying my eyes open to put drops in, which was very painful.’
She was also given instructions by a blind specialist while in the hospital on how to walk, go to the bathroom, and do other daily tasks without being able to see.
Doctors treat eye burns using cycloplegic eyedrops, which temporarily paralyse the ring-shaped muscle that changes the shape of the eye’s lens — allowing it to focus. These muscles can spasm after burns.
Patients may also be administered with an antibiotic eye ointment to prevent infection.
Painkillers may also be administered.
Doctors discharged Ms D’Aprile after two days so she could recover at home, although she still had to return daily for tests.
The student said: ‘Each day went by with me sitting in bed with my eyes shut.
‘I was going crazy on the fact that I saw blackness and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
On day three of not being able to see, the doctor opened my eyes to test if I still had my vision.
‘The doctor opened them and I could barely see, but he slipped in “band-aids” for my eyes.
‘He described my eyes as if someone took a razor and slit both of them.’
Medics feared Ms D’Aprile may lose her vision, or have reduced vision should cloudy patches be left in her cornea — which can be caused by injuries.
She said: ‘I had an 80 percent chance of being color blind because my cornea was so damaged.
‘I prayed to God multiple times a day for me to keep my vision and that was the only hope I had.’
To help her eyes heal cold water was run over them. This can also help to soothe the pain
Ms D’Aprile is shown above with her mother. After the accident, she rushed to the bathroom to splash water on her face
Five days after the accident, it was Christmas Day and the student decided to try and open her eyes again herself.
She found she was able to open them slightly, although this was extremely painful.
About two weeks after the accident, Ms D’Aprile found that her vision was back to normal and she was able to do everything she used to do.
This included reading, driving, looking at electronics, and finding that her eyes were less painful to open.
More than a year after the accident, however, Ms D’Aprile says her vision is completely back to normal.
But she says it has still left scars on her mental health.
‘I get panic attacks about the accident but have learned to cope with it and what certain triggers are,’ she said.
‘I used to be super rebellious and never an overthinker, but now I don’t usually do anything out of my comfort zone and I am a lot more grounded.
It’s all a work in progress and all it takes is time to heal so I know it will get better with the mental factors but the accident is still relevant and I just need to be easier on myself and realize that this is all normal and a part of the healing process.
‘My plans for the future are to finish school and get a good job in marketing, but mainly to live each day to the fullest and make the most memories with my friends and family.’
How are burnt eyes treated?
Your eyes can get injured if they are struck or scraped by an object like metal slivers or wood chips, splashed with a boiling substance or exposed to chemicals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 2,000 Americans injure their eyes every day at work.
Thermal burns to the surface of the eye tend to damage the conjunctiva or cornea, the transparent part of the eye covering the iris and pupil.
Doctors may advise people to take painkillers, to relieve the pain.
Patients may also receive cycloplegic eye drops, which can prevent painful spasms of the muscles that constrict the pupil.
Antibiotics may also be administered to help prevent an infection.
If the eyelids are burnt, doctors say these should be cleaned and then have an antibiotic applied to prevent an infection.
Source: Merck Manual