The woman had gouged out her own eyes with pencils.
A nurse at a Los Angeles hospital saw the horrifying sight and took a photo. Somehow, the picture went viral on the Internet.
Now, the patient has sued the hospital and its administrators.
The unnamed plaintiff was treated at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in 2012 after she tried to commit suicide. Her lawyer, Douglas Johnson, said she was rushed to the hospital.
The unidentified nurse took the photograph of the patient with the "intact pencils sticking out of her eyes," then shared the unauthorised picture with another person, who passed the image to Joshua Shivers.
Shivers, in turn, used his mother's computer to post the image to a "shock" website, the suit stated, adding that the photo has since been viewed more than 192,000 times.
The specific website to which it was posted was not disclosed.
"Everybody knows that as soon as someone gets their hands on something like this, it goes viral and the harm is done," said Douglas, who specialises in privacy cases.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, he had asked the medical center and administrators to take the picture down from the Web.
They held copyright over the photo, since it was taken in their facility.
The lawsuit also named Joshua Shivers and his mother, Linda, as defendants. They could not be reached for comment.
Back on track
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, said the woman was blinded.
She has since received psychiatric help, learned to read Braille and "gotten her life back on track" by enrolling in college.
But she fell into depression since the photo spread online, the lawsuit stated.
The legal action did not specify how much the woman is seeking in damages. - Reuters