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Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon Discusses Realistic Results of "The Walking Dead" Character's Injury

Millions of viewers watched in awe as one of the main characters of AMC's zombie series “The Walking Dead” suffered a shocking and graphic eye injury caused by a stray bullet during the 2016 mid-season premiere. According to the episode's director Greg Nicotero in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the injury had to be survivable and believable, explaining that the bullet hit just above the cheekbone at the corner of the eye before ricocheting outward. The resulting bone fragments shattered into the character's eye.

“The most common cause of eye injuries is actually guns, whether toy guns or recreational guns,” said Dr. Mehryar (Ray) Taban, acclaimed oculoplastic surgeon at Taban MD in Los Angeles. “The injury, as depicted on the TV show, can cause a variety of consequences, the most likely being both ocular and orbital damage and blindness.”

Gun shot wounds to the eye often cause the following symptoms depending on the type of weapon and location of impact:

Traumatic Optic Neuropathy – The optic nerve is damaged directly or indirectly as a result of the trauma, resulting in partial or complete vision loss.

Globe Rupture – The outer membrane of the eye is penetrated or damaged, potentially causing full-thickness injury to the sclera and cornea. In most cases, globe rupture results in permanent vision loss.

Orbital Blowout Fracture – One or more of the bones of the eye socket are fractured, resulting in orbital fat and muscle prolapse, double vision, sunken ocular globes (enophthalmos), and loss of sensation of the cheek and upper gums.

Iritis – Traumatic inflammation of the iris due to blunt trauma, resulting in pain, blurred vision, misshapen pupil, headache, redness.

Sclopetaria – Full-thickness disruption of the retina and choroid of the eye as a result of shock waves created by the projectile trauma that does not actually enter the eye.

“Considering the angle of the gun shot in the scene on 'The Walking Dead,' it is not unlikely that a person could survive such an injury,” added Dr. Taban. “However, the craniofacial trauma, in addition to globe rupture, would essentially cause irreparable damage and the eye would have to be removed and the socket reconstructed.”

Sudden vision loss in one eye cause reduced field of vision and decreased depth perception, which can make it difficult to see people approaching from the blind side or even walk down stairs comfortably.

“While suffering an injury that cause monocular vision can be traumatizing, it is possible to adapt to the loss of peripheral vision and depth perception,” said Dr. Taban. “Fortunately, most people with monocular vision can continue to lead a relatively normal life regardless of when the vision loss occurs.”

Mehryar (Ray) Taban, MD, is a Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills,Los Angeles oculoplastic surgeon (cosmetic and reconstructive eyelid plastic surgery) who is committed to his patients’ progress and results. He offers an array of reconstructive and cosmetic procedures, with a focus on the face in general and the eyes in particular. He has had extensive training, and is triple board-certified by the American Society of Oculofacial Plastic Surgery (ASOPRS), American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) and American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO). Due to Dr. Mehryar (Ray) Taban's expertise in eye plastic surgery, he is often called upon to help other physicians with their complex cases, and frequently publishes articles and lectures to physicians around the country.

For more information on Dr. Taban and his services, please visit

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