So hey, I got to go to the Emergency Room again this week. It was more fun than the times I went for heat exhaustion (1) (2), but also quite a bit scarier in places.
The story is, I woke up from a nap on Thursday afternoon and my right eye was blurry. As in, I couldn't read the computer screen with my glasses on, sitting eighteen inches (46 cm) away. This is fairly alarming, but not entirely unprecedented -- it's normal for me to be a little bleary when I first wake up. It's not normal, though, for the fuzziness to last more than a couple minutes. There was no pain, no flashes of light or dark spots, no numbness or weakness or fever -- just really blurry. (It was worse than the blurriness one gets from having one's eyes dilated at the optometrist's, but not as bad as looking at the world through a thin, grease-soaked piece of paper, if that helps at all.)
So, this being 2011, I googled for "sudden blurred vision in one eye," or something to that effect, and a number of pages came up, all of which mentioned stroke and retinal detachment as a possible cause. I have family history of both, so this got my attention. And after about half an hour of blurred vision, we decided to go to the ER; within an hour of waking up, I was at the hospital. (The blurriness cleared up en route, so by the time I got to the hospital, I was seeing normally again, but still, everything through my right eye was out of focus for at least 45 minutes.)
Various drops were put in my eyes, lots of people pointed lights of varying colors and intensities at them, I got an eyeball-pressure test to check for glaucoma, which was better than the usual eyeball-pressure test but still damned weird,1 and so on and so forth, and then the diagnosis was . . . that my eyes were dry. Or at least the one had been.
Which was kind of anticlimactic. I mean, not that I would rather have found out that my blurred vision was because your retinoblastoma gave you a stroke. And by the way, you also have glaucoma. And you just died. but -- dry eyes? Really? That's it?
The theory is, in essence, that I don't produce quite enough tears to lubricate my eyes properly, plus maybe dry air (unlikely, with all the plants in the house) and seasonal allergies (never noticed 'em before, but I suppose it's possible). As far as I can tell, this is probably true, but it doesn't quite satisfy. I mean, I'd also like to know why Thursday, and never before. I mean, if I have congenitally unlubricated eyes, you'd think I would have noticed before my late 30s.
But I'm okay anyway, I guess.
This whole getting-old thing is clearly not for the faint of heart, though.
1 The usual test involves sitting with your chin in a cup while they blow puffs of air at your eyeball. I hate this because I can never not jump when it happens, and I have a fairly low tolerance for being startled anyway. The new test is that they give you eyedrops (which burn slightly) to numb the eye, and then they take a pen-like thing and touch it to your cornea, which tells them how much pressure your eye pushes back with, or something like that. I didn't like the eyedrops, but this was still much, much better than the air-puff thing.