Lime tells me that when one pupil is dilated and the other isn’t, this is a sign of a brain hemorrhage. It’s quite a disconcerting thing to see in the mirror, really. Click for a better look at the horror, the absolute horror!
Let me reiterate: in my case, it’s not a case of brain hemorrhage. This effect was achieved with some eye drops that relax the muscles of the eye in order to facilitate an examination of the interior.
I think I haven’t mentioned the fact that I noticed a dark spot in the lower left-hand corner of my peripheral vision in my right eye. Now, for those of you who don’t know, I have a great deal of reason to be concerned whenever I notice anything unusual with that eye, since for all practical purposes, the other eye, the left, is almost completely useless. It’s a lazy eye, meaning that the connection between my brain and my left eye just never developed: when my brain had troubled figuring out what to do with the two images it was receiving, early in my childhood, the brain just decided to ignore one of the images. I don’t know if it was caught too late, or whether there was some other reason, but unlike some people, this condition never really was resolved in my case. So I have one eye that is present pretty much for cosmetic reasons.
I also had surgery on one or both of my eyes as a kid. You see, I was crosseyed as a little boy because of my lazy eye, and the surgery basically shortened the muscles on one or both eyes. It’s largely a cosmetic thing, though today, before he examined me, the doctor I saw today explained that in some cases, the stitching of the severed muscle to the eye can actually cause retinal damage, and that it can take decades to manifest as a visual problem. (Which horrified me, really, but for no good reason, as I’ll explain in a moment.)
That brings the number of sugeries that may permanently screw me up later in life to two: one, the eye surgery on my good eye; the other, the surgery I had on my nose. When my parents decided it was time to address my respiratory problems, the doctor informed them that, yes, the fact that my nose had been broken probably was having a bad effect on my breathing, but that unfortunately under the provincial health care guidelines, a surgery to fix that was, regardless of intended effect, considered cosmetic surgery, and therefore not covered. However, another lovely surgery, involving digging away some of the flesh of my nasal passages and leaving behind a bloody mess that required a few days in the hospital, doped out of my mind, watching random TV and sleeping a lot, to heal, now, that was covered. Last year, I think it was, I saw something about the potential after-effects of such a surgery. I think it was on a TV show, in fact, but anyway, a woman suddenly got a nosebleed and, bang! dropped to the ground and died. It was claimed that hundreds of people die every year because this kind of surgery weakened this or that major blood vessel in the vicinity of the nasal passage. So now, I often pause momentarily if my nose is runny or if I find a little blood in the mucus. “Is it my time?” I wonder, but, well, so far it hasn’t been.
Probably the after-effects of both surgeries won’t come back to haunt me. But something is going on with my vision. I’ve been repeatedly assured that it’s not serious. I’ve been told that several times. “If you see flashing lights rushing toward you, or cascading colors, that’s serious. If you see these things, go straight to the hospital.” In my case, what I’ve been told is that the vitreous fluid in my right eye, which is normally a jelly-like material, is liquefying. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Anyway, it’s a little unusual in someone my age, I’ve been told twice out of three times, but also nothing to be alarmed about. The “floater” in my eye, the little dark spot, is just a little solidified bit of this jelly, floating around, and in no time I should stop noticing it or at least not be bothered by it darting into my field of vision. That was what I was told last Friday.
But yesterday (Thursday) morning, I woke to find myself suddenly extra-sensitive to light. Just being outside hurt my eye a bit. I thought, okay, it’s just my dry, irritated eye. It’s not a big deal. But when the sun went down, and I walked around on campus, I noticed that even the mild lamps lining the pathway seemed extraordinarily bright to me. Headlights of cars were painful, and the neon lights on signs hanging from so many businesses burned into my vision. I began to be alarmed, and after talking with Lime, decided I ought to get it looked at as soon as possible, and went straight to the one local hospital that offers opthamological consultations at night as part of the emergency ward.
A nurse claimed that without physical pain, an emergency was obviously not happening and tried to send me away, but I remembered what I was told and asked Lime to help. She very angrily told the nurse that I might be losing my sight in my one good eye, and told her that I needed an opthamological consultation immediately. She even asked me to get the nurse’s name, since it would be she who was culpable if I were sent away and subsequently did lose my vision.
After several hours, I was looked at, told nothing was wrong but that I ought to get it properly looked-at during the daytime by a full opthamologist (not just the resident who saw me last night), and so I went home, and waking this morning to continued sensitivity, I decided to go to the hospital again. This time, a fully-certified opthamologist checked by a photograph of my retina, and did a pretty thorough check-through of my right eye, and said he could find nothing really wrong. He reiterated that the jelly was liquefying, but that this didn’t necessarily matter much. He said that if I were experiencing vitreous detachment, I would see bright colours rushing toward me, and sudden loss of visual acuity. Having trouble focusing on books doesn’t indicate that, though it could indicate fatigue. Sensitivity to light, he told Lime on the phone (once his explanation got too difficult for me to follow) was probably related to the state-change of the viterous fluid, but was also not indicative of anything alarming, and would probably pass after some time. He assured me I ought not to worry, but that I ought to come see him in a month, and if I did indeed see flashing lights zooming at me, to make haste to a nearby hospital and insist on treatment.
So I’m less worried than I was before. But I’m not 100% relaxed. I think nobody would be. Even just having imagined the prospect of losing my sight scared the hell out of me. It’s not that I think life can’t go on with only one bad eye. I’ve worked with blind people, I’ve known them, and they can be very productive and happy. But it’s relatively productive, and relatively happy. My access to books would be gone; my ability to write would be slowed; and I’m not sure how well I could do at teaching, let alone living abroad. It’s a frightening think to work through in one’s mind.
But, for now at least, it’s only worries, not reality.