Saturday, June 26, 2021

Bad Idea

      It probably serves me right.

      The eye surgeon's office was upfront about it: they were going to dilate my eyes.  And they can provide transportation, at remarkably low prices.

      "No thanks," said I, "Your office is only two or three miles from the North Campus and I have two sets of sunglasses.  I'll drive myself."

      And so I did.  The afternoon was thickly overcast, which was a help.  Wide-brimmed hat, dark clip-ons on my new glasses and the big, dark, side-shield over-glasses they supplied after surgery.  A little dicey getting to the car, but once inside...  Well, not great but certainly workable.

      Wide-dilated eyes have a very shallow focus: only a narrow range of distances will be clear at any given time.  (It's the exact opposite of a pinhole camera.)  The eye drops tend to freeze the muscles that change your focus, too.  The way to deal with this is to keep your eyes moving, so you build up a clearer idea of the details.  Heavy stop-and-go traffic is actually a help: your main attention is on the car in front of you.  That's exactly what I was driving in; I made it back to the North Campus just fine.

      The inside of the building there is painted and floored in light, neutral colors and very well lit.  Really, extremely well-lit.  Post-dilation, it looked to be well past that and right up to OMG ARE WE DOING SURGERY ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN?

      Okay, shades drawn, lights off, I can cope.  I've been using one of my own laptops (a MacBook Air, a useful little machine and a good match to my older Windows Surface Pro) for e-mail and other simple tasks.   With the brightness down to the very lowest setting that doesn't turn the backlight off, the screen was comfortable to look at.  I got to work and made good progress on a current project.

      As time passed, things in the darkened building were getting clearer.  And the computer screen was starting to give me a headache--

      I didn't ask what they'd used in the eye-dilating drops.  Atropine -- one of the gotcha chemicals in Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade -- is still a common ingredient.  It's safe in this application.  Like any drug, full effect is reached some time after administration and then it tapers off.  And this stuff isn't quick: it reached peak two or three hours after they used it on me.

      It was still tapering off when I left for home.  Hat, clip-ons, sunglasses over them, at least it was still overcast.  But the clouds didn't go all the way to the horizon and the setting sun was starting to peek under them from time to time.  Well, my car's got sun visors.... 

      I set out for home.  It turned out the evening sunlight wasn't too hard to take.  Not great, but workable.  The headlights of oncoming cars, on the other hand--

      Each light source made a big, fuzzy, four-armed star.  I am both nearsighted and astigmatic; the astigmatism became markedly worse in early adulthood and the first indication was that light sources at night started turning into fuzzy, bright balls, sometime with star rays.  New glasses fixed it.  Now the effect of the dilation was making my astigmatism different!  Not enough to obscure things, but it was unexpected.

      Next time, I'm taking the afternoon off -- and I'm not doing my own driving.

1 comment:

Cop Car said...

You made it, thank goodness.

I think some offices are using a different cocktail to dilate eyes these days. In January, it took my eyes hours longer to get back to "normal". Fortunately, since the eye surgeon's office is many miles and across town from us, I had asked Hunky Husband to do the driving. When, several hours later I checked back with the office, they assured me that the length of time during which my eyes were dilated was not excessive and to be patient.