Ten things you never knew about… eyes

For details, see visionmatters.org.uk.

1. Two million British people live with significant sight loss. Half of such cases are avoidable.

2. Aristotle thought that the ostrich was the only bird with eyelashes but hornbills have them too. So does the blue-fronted Amazon parrot.

3. Frogs cannot eat with their eyes open. Humans usually close their eyes when they sneeze.

4. The French philosopher René Descartes (1596- 1650) found cross-eyed women very attractive.

5. In 1923, dancers in Kalamazoo, Michigan, were forbidden by law to stare into each other’s eyes.

6. When the word alcohol entered the language in the early 17th century, it referred to a fine metallic powder, ore of antimony, used as eye make-up.

7. In the 1670s it became a crime punishable by death to lie in wait with intent to put out an eye.

8. Eyeing up other diners was reported as the second highest cause of arguments in restaurants. Only pinching your partner’s chips came higher.

9. The first successful removal of a cataract from a giant panda’s eye was done in 1985 in China.

10. Aegilops, which can mean either an eye ulcer or a type of grass, is the longest English word that has its letters in alphabetical order