Three nights ago I went a little bit blind.
Friday Night after Cardio Boot Camp I logged onto Twitter and noticed that my fellow tweeters were making an LOT of typos–leaving out letters and even whole words. I felt smug. At least I wasn’t the only one who made “twypos”! Then I realized they hadn’t. It was me. My eyes were all wonky.
It was looking through broken glass that had been smeared with Vaseline. My husband suggested it was eye strain. That sounded reasonable since I’d been on the computer a lot. As I was contemplating this, things worsened. I suddenly saw wiggly white lights flashing from the centre of my eyes, outward. I freaked out and ran upstairs. Not the smartest move in retrospect. The vision impaired should refrain from running up stairs. I went to bed, shut my eyes tight, and hoped I would see things clearly in the morning.
If I had been having a stroke or some other medical emergency, ignoring these symptoms could have been well, not good.
In the morning my vision was back to normal, with the exception of those annoying floaties passing across my field of vision. I reported this to hubby who upon Googling this new info, promptly sent me to Emergency (It was a Saturday. Of course it was. Don’t these things ALWAYS occur on a weekend?). The ER doctor concluded that I was healthy, but sent me to the on-call ophthalmologist.
Let me tell you, it was a real “eye-opener”. I’d been taking my vision for granted. I just didn’t “real-eyes”….
Here’s what I learned:
1. You can simulate the drops that freeze your cornea so the doc can poke around your eye by filling your eye-sockets with maple syrup.
2. Those drops to dilate your eyes? They make reading a magazine in the waiting room next to impossible, but also highly entertaining. Try making a cell phone call. Hysterical.
3. No, I don’t remember scratching my right eye and have no idea where the “significant scratch” on my cornea came from.
4. Do I recall staring directly into a solar eclipse? Nope. Though, I was a pretty dumb kid, so chances are…
5. As we age, the vitreous/jelly part of the eye, slowly shrinks and pulls away from the surface of the retina. Gross. A sudden increase in the number of new floaters and/or flashes of light in your peripheral vision may mean your vitreous is detaching. You needn’t panic however. It’s a common condition that usually affects people over age 50. I’m 39. Apparently I’m marching toward a nursing home as we speak. A vitreous detachment does not threaten sight, but once in a while the process can create a macular hole or lead to a retinal detachment. This is bad, as in sight-threatening bad and should be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Though my vitreous is indeed currently in detachment mode, I was told that this was NOT the cause of my “Mary Ingels” episode…
6. What I experienced is called an ophthalmic or ocular migraine. Apparently it is quite common in the 50+ set. Did I mention I’m 39? This is one of eight types of migraines and odd as it sounds, there is no headache involved with this kind of migraine. Typically you see a small, enlarging blind spot with bright, flickering lights and zig zag lines inside the blind spot. The entire migraine lasts about 20-30 minutes. Generally, ocular migraines are considered harmless. What causes them? Who knows? Stress, hormonal changes, red wine, hypertension. Hmmm, check, check, check and check!
Though you may not be able to do anything to ward off “oddball eyeball” episodes like these, there are ways to look out for your eyes, so to speak.
Sunglasses are one of the best sources of UV protection. The darker the lens does not equal better protection. In fact, dark lenses cause the pupils to dilate, allowing more of the dangerous UVA radiation to damage the eyes. It’s all about the UV protection. In order to properly protect your eyes, choose large lenses that fit close to the eyes and have at least 95 percent UV protection. Those that block visible blue light are safest. Remember those hideously ugly “Blue Blocker” sunglasses from the 80s? Shit. Who knew? Bet the people who bought them are eyeing now us with their spectacula maculas and thinking, “We told you so!”
The eye doc told me that I have sun damage on my right retina. Possibly from ogling an eclipse, but more likely the result of years of squinting up toward the sun while sunbathing. He said that as a “young woman” (Bah ha! Clearly, I’m 50!) if I take measures to protect my eyes from UV rays now, I can greatly reduce my risk of Macular Degeneration. Excellent, plus it’s an excuse to buy some fancy new shades – doctor’s orders! Just so we’re clear, cataracts, pteryguim (tissue growth on the whites of your eyes), melanoma on your eyelids and facial skin and Macular Degeneration are not sexy.
Not to treat you like one of my “pupils”, but EYE beg you…don’t be blind to eye health. Protect your vision cuz it’s out of sight baby.