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Pastor Rick Warren briefly hospitalized after severely burning his eyes

July 22, 2010 |  1:02 pm

Evangelical preacher Rick Warren was briefly hospitalized earlier this week following an eye injury, according to a message the popular pastor sent to his followers on Twitter on Thursday thanking them for their prayers as he resumed his recovery.

Warren tweeted that on Monday, his eyes "were severely burned by a toxic poison," and he experienced


"excruciating pain." He said he was now home but was expected to visit the doctor again later Thursday.

"May God use this pain for His Glory," Warren tweeted. He tweeted that protective contacts had been placed on his corneas as bandages to help them heal.

"I am NOT blind," he tweeted.

Warren's spokesman, A. Larry Ross, said that one of the pastor's favorite ways "to unwind" was horticulture and gardening, and on Monday he was working in his yard.

Warren was using gloves to prune two large firestick plants in his backyard, Ross said. The succulent has a milky white sap that can cause temporary blindness. When Warren removed his gloves, he wiped his brow and both of his eyes immediately started to burn, Ross said.

The pain was so intense, the pastor "couldn't even articulate" to his wife what had happened, Ross said.

Warren's wife called 911, and an emergency vehicle transferred the pastor to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he was treated by an eye specialist, Ross said.

"The pain was so excruciating the first 24 hours, he couldn't open his eyes," Ross said.

Warren was hospitalized overnight and released Tuesday.

According to Ross, Warren suffered a chemical burn to the cornea, which caused temporary impairment of his vision. Warren's vision had since improved, and although he was still experiencing some discomfort, "doctors expect a full recovery," Ross said.

The pastor's aftercare treatment included wearing protective contact lenses, using a special ointment and follow-up visits with eye specialists, Ross said.

Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest in Orange County and author of the multimillion-selling book "Purpose Driven Life," had not been scheduled to preach this month, according to his publicist. He had blocked out this month to work on developing his curriculum for the fall, Ross said.

-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times