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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eyes eyes baby

This is what it looks like when your eye explodes.

I went to the eye doctor today for a dilation and examination, my first one in over three years. I got a clean bill of health. My eyes have not degenerated to the point that I need bifocals, though that will almost certainly not be the case next time around. The concentrated Wisk that I splashed in my eye a few months ago did not cause any scarring. The increase in visibility of my always-present floaters was probably the result of different lighting and monitor conditions in the office where I was doing my data analysis gig. And most of my vision problems are probably the result of thousands of tiny scratches on the three-year-old lenses in my glasses.

Ten years ago I had a slightly more serious problem. I suppose I had been noticing it for a while, but it first became obvious when I happened to be in a stall in the men's room at work. The door was painted a solid, cheerful royal blue, but I could clearly see a burning spot of orange-yellow on it. Problem was, this burning spot of orange-yellow moved wherever I happened to be looking.

Now, if I had just been looking at a bright light or an intensely-colored object, I might have concluded that I was seeing an afterimage. But I had not been looking at any such thing in the past few minutes. And the image persisted; it did not fade like an afterimage should.

I was worried. There was something wrong with my eye, maybe something seriously wrong. I made an emergency appointment with my regular eye doctor, the one I went to today. He got me in - possibly that afternoon - and after an exam referred me to an opthamologist.

It was a few days before I got to see the opthamologist, and during that time the spot didn't get any bigger, but it also didn't go away. When he finally got me in we did all sorts of fun stuff: he dilated my pupils - always a good time - and then injected a fluorescent dye into my bloodstream that made me want to dry-heave. After an agonizing wait, the real fun began as he aimed an incredibly bright light into my wide-open pupil and took a series of pictures. The end result was a group of photos like the one above, showing a small rupture in a blood vessel in my right eye just slightly off from the center.

"So what can we do about it?", I asked.

"Nothing," he said. "It will just go away on its own."

Ummmm. Well, that was good news, I suppose. But it seemed like there wasn't really much point to the whole dilation / fluorescent dye / extremely bright light deal, if all we were going to do was let nature take its course.

I wished I had been going out to Tink's that night. It would have been cool to have giant glowing pupils on the dance floor.


In time the bright spot faded and was gone. Still, I wonder if it will come back. And what brought it on? Was it a weakening in the walls of the capillaries in my eye? A temporary increase in blood pressure? Or was it just a freak occurrence?

For now my eyes are OK. I will get the prescription for my new glasses filled at one of the places that accepts my insurance. And I will continue to be on the lookout for any unexplained bright spots in my field of vision.

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