A nursery school teacher in Brazil suffers from an extremely rare condition which causes her to cry “crystal” tears.
Laura Ponce suffers from a strange affliction which causes white plaques to build up in her eyes for weeks at a time. At first, the residue is soft, but then it crystallizes in the air.
As Ponce blinks to expel one clot of the white plaque, another one begins to form and becomes a membrane on her eyeball.
1. Laura Ponce, 35, suffers from a mysterious condition causing her to cry hard, white, tears of crystal (photo: Discovery / Barcroft).
A clot starts to swell then I have to open my eye to take out the membrane. When it dries it hardens, it gets really hard, it hurts a lot.
The 35-year-old woman first noticed the “crystal” tears when she was only 15, after her eye started filling up with the mysterious white substance.
Nowadays, Ponce sometimes needs to take time off work to remove up to 30 hard white plaques from her eye — in a single a day.
2. White plaques build up in Ponce’s eyes for weeks a time. Initially, they are soft but as they rise closer to the surface of the eye they become crystal-like, and form a membrane (photo: Discovery / Barcroft).
3. At times Ponce has to take time off work and stay at home, removing 30 crystals a day from her eye (photo: Discovery / Barcroft).
After two decades of suffering, there is now hope that a doctor might finally have identified the cause of her tears.
Dr. Raul Goncalves, an ophthalmologist at Hospital de Olhos de Bauru, Brazil, notes that they are yet to find a case such as Ponce’s in medical literature.
But after running a series of tests on her crystallized tears, Dr. Goncalves now believes that the white crystals are the result of her eyes producing excessive amounts of keratin. He said:
I have been an ophthalmologist for 25 years and I have never seen anything like it. For these plaques to form so fast there could only be one explanation, it must be chemical.
Every time we blink you’re lubricating your eye, and tears are made of three layers — a water layer, a mucin layer and a fat layer. Each cell separately creates a product and when you blink you mix all this like a dough.
4. “When it dries it hardens, it gets really hard, it hurts a lot”, Ponce says of the crystal tears (photo: Discovery / Barcroft).
When bacteria attack the eye, Dr. Goncalves explains, the protein content of the tear should defend it. However, in Ponce’s case this first line of defense is failing, the medic added.
Dr. Goncalves has now prescribed silver nitrate eye drops to manage his patient’s condition.
After the treatment began, Ponce has had much fewer eye infections than she used to have and can go back to work.
Her story is set to be featured in a new series of “Body Bizarre” on TLC, which starts this Thursday.
5. Ophthalmologist Dr. Raul Goncalves believes the white plaques are because Miss Ponce’s eyes produce too much of the protein keratin, which crystallizes when it combines with other ingredients in tears (photo: Discovery / Barcroft).
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