Alison Brie Nearly Went Blind at Age 7: 'I Was Hysterically Crying'

The GLOW star had a severe concussion as a kid that led to temporary blindness, and doctors said that if her vision didn't come back soon "she'll likely be blind for the rest of her life"

alison brie
Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

Alison Brie's life now is all about visual art, from acting to directing to writing TV shows and movies. But at age 7, she was close to losing her vision entirely after a freak incident on the school playground.

The GLOW star, 39, was playing outside when she accidentally ran into another girl and fell backwards, hitting her head on concrete, she recounted to hosts Sean Hayes and Dr. Priyanka Wali on Wednesday's episode of Hypochondriactor.

"I was a really petite kid [and] I was just running across the playground and not looking and I bumped into another little girl in my class, who was like four times bigger than me," Brie explained. Her older sister Lauren was there, "thank god," and brought her to the nurse's office.

"As I'm walking up to the nurse's office, I just feel a little out of it. I clearly had a concussion. But I don't know this at seven or eight, but I just feel out of it and foggy, but I can still see," Brie said. The nurse had gone home for the day, though, "and the women in the office are like, 'Just go lay her down and have her close her eyes.' They put us in a dark room. These women in the office [are like], 'Oh, she hit her head. We'll just lay her down and have her close her eyes.' "

Wali immediately points out that laying down and closing your eyes is the worst thing to do for concussions.

"You want to keep the person awake because if they lose consciousness, it could be a sign that there's more serious underlying bleeding," Wali explained. "If you put them to sleep, you don't know at what point did they start to lose consciousness? And you need to get a CAT scan and you need to go to the emergency room if you're starting to lose consciousness after you've hit your head."

Brie started forgetting what happened, and repeatedly asking her sister where she was, "so [Lauren] starts to freak out." But they're able to get ahold of their dad, who comes to take Brie to the hospital — and that's when her vision goes out.

"My dad arrives and I sort of don't remember anything. Like the next part of my memory is, I'm in the backseat of my dad's car and boom. I can't see a thing," she said. "It's sort of like how, when you close your eyes, it's black, but you can a little bit see light and shadows."

"I was hysterical," she continued. "I start hysterically crying because I could feel myself trying to open my eyes as wide as possible … It wasn't computing. And I think that was part of the hystericalness too, was like, 'Oh my God.' Like realizing that I was blind. And then sort of just being like, 'Now I'm just blind?' "

RELATED VIDEO: Alison Brie: The Female Forces Behind 'Glow' Are 'What Makes Our Show Important Right Now'

The afternoon only got messier from there — as Brie is hysterical and her dad is trying to calm her down, he gets into a fender bender, launching Brie (who thinks she wasn't wearing a seatbelt) on to the car floor. Forced to stay with the car, her dad calls a family friend who drives Brie and her sister to the hospital.

"I know they did the CAT scan on me and I think they did knock me out because I was just too upset," she said. "And they told my parents, if her vision doesn't come back in 12 hours, she'll likely be blind for the rest of her life."

"The next thing I remember is, I wake up. It's been about 10 hours. I wake up in a hospital bed and my parents like shoot towards me in my hospital bed. Like they're hysterical, [asking], 'Can you see me?' Which to me, and at this point I sort of have no recollection. You know, I like wake up in this hospital bed. I can see everybody. I'm like, 'Yeah?' "

Brie stayed at the hospital a few more days for observation, and once she went home she "could never sleep through the night, [because] my parents would wake me up every couple hours to check my vision." But she's never had an issue again.

"I think I only got my eyes checked last year or the year before last because they were going to make contacts for me for a job," Brie said. "I was like, 'Oh yeah. How is my vision these days?' She was like, it's almost 20/20. It's like 20 and 19 and three-quarters. I've had great vision ever since."

Brie joked that it's a bit "lame," but the entire experience gave her a greater appreciation for her eyesight.

"It sounds so lame. But I do think like I'm constantly taking in visuals of things all the time," she said. "Like I was just shooting this movie and somebody kept making fun of me because I was like, 'The clouds behind you. They look incredible. It's so beautiful here.' And he turns around and he was like, 'You mean there, by those s---ty apartments?' And I was like, 'Yeah. But like they're beautiful in their own way.' "

Related Articles