Eyeballs Bounce If You Drop Them Down Stairs, Apparently

When you think about a strong human body part, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a person’s legs, arms, or hands. I cannot read your mind but I can almost guarantee that you do not think of an eyeball. They seem rather fragile as two orbs sitting in our heads with only thin eyelids to protect them. I constantly imagine ways that my eye could get hurt. A sharp object can pierce my eye. A baseball might slam into my eye socket. Something can fly into it and cause damage. Jason Voorhees might ram an ax into it. (I am kidding about that last one… sort of.) But it turns out our eyes are much more durable than they look.

In fact, a pair of researchers at the Institute of Human Anatomy gave “eye drop” a new meaning by literally dropping an eye to see what happens. Will it bounce? Or will it lead to a gory splatter? The answer is surprising. In a YouTube clip, we meet Jonathan and Justin, who break down the anatomy of the eyeball prior to their experiment. One which uses cow eyeballs in the name of science. (An eyeball is basically an eyeball.) The outer layer of an eyeball is the fibrous tunic, which is actually strong, resists tension, and stands up to inner and external pressure. It’s a little gnarly to watch him poke at a big ole eyeball but the science behind an eye is cool information.

photo of a cow eyeball on a steel table
Institute of Human Anatomy

They quickly suit up and head to a stairwell to do their testing with five eyeballs. From the second floor, the cow eyeball bounces pretty high and stays intact. So, of course, they have to up the ante. Jonathan heads up to the fifth floor while Justin waits below to observe the results. It turns out dropping an eyeball in a tall, narrow space isn’t easy. Jonathan accidentally lands a couple of eyeballs on stairs before one gets a good (and pretty high) bounce. And, it stays together! So, if you need to break your fall, maybe you can use your eyes to catch you? Probably not. Jonathan stresses that eye protective wear and caution still matter because, well, you don’t wanna shoot your eye out, kid.

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