According to news messages from Israeli media outlets Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opened his eyes on Monday for the first time since he suffered a stroke on January 4. Hospital officials say, however, that the reports appeared when the Sharon family shared their impression of seeing the eyelid movement, the medical significance of which is unclear.
The Web site of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that Sharon opened his eyes twice on Monday. On one occasion, after a recording of a grandson's voice was played, the prime minister's eyes teared, he blinked, and then quickly opened his eyes, the site said. But they closed before doctors reached his room, the site added.
Dr. Anthony Rudd, a stroke specialist at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, said eye movement including eye opening is "not a dramatic breakthrough."
"A coma is not an absolute all-or-nothing state. There are various stages," Rudd said. "His coma may be lightening a bit. It's not a dramatic breakthrough."
Given the length of the coma, "one still needs to be pessimistic," he said, adding, "It means more if he opens his eyes in response to someone talking to him than it does if he simply opens them in response to strong stimulation or pain," the AP reports.