When I get stuck for a simile or metaphor, I sometimes rummage around on Books Google.
Eyes like … ?
What would someone in the 17th or 18th century have said?
Eyes like fish pools.
Not exactly what I was looking for!
Eyes like a comb-box.
I admit: this one intrigued me. What is a comb-box? A quick Google search for “18th century comb-box” revealed a wealth of them.
But nothing whatsoever like “eyes,” however.
Intrigued, I followed the link and discovered The Works of Francis Rabelais, published in 1738. Chapter XXX is a long list of nonsensical (at least to me) similes:
The nape of the neck like a paper lantern.
Spittle like a shuttle.
The bridge of his nose like a wheel-barrow.
The windpipe like an oyster-knife.
This one is perfect, however:
Hair like a scrubbing-brush.
Of course all this led to an exploration of what Rabelais was getting at (an anti-Catholic spoof of sorts), which only goes to prove how diverting procrastination can be.
Now, as for those eyes …
For those of you who would like specific steps in using Books Google for this type of search:
Go to https://books.google.com
Type in a word or phrase. Click “Search books.”
On the page that comes up, click “Search tools.”
Then click “Any time” and a menu will drop down.
Click “Custom range.” Enter your range and click “GO.”
Prior to Newton, the “emission theory of sight” was a respectable theory and so “Eyes like laser beams” would have made perfect sense, IF the laser had been invented 400 yrs. earlier. As it was, they did refer to eye-beams (John Donne and Shakespeare).