In which I almost have a psychotic break
So, I was at work the other day, when I noticed my vision was going a little blurry. Not blurry exactly…just kind of like if you looked at the sun for a long time and then looked at something else. Like there was a ghost spot over the center of my vision. I didn’t think much of it, and tried to blink it away.
Over the next 10 minutes or so, it got increasingly worse. A large, blurry crescent shape developed in my right peripheral vision. It was very odd. If I looked in that direction it would move or disappear, but if I looked straight ahead it was as if there were a giant kaleidoscope covering everything to my right. I could sort of see shapes and colors through it, but it was like looking through thick glass or something.
At this point I started to freak out a little bit. I had no idea what was going on; it was like nothing I have ever experienced. I decided that something was wrong with my eye, most likely that my cornea was becoming detached.
Now, there’s two things you have to know about me. The first is that eye things REALLY FREAK ME OUT. Sara used to chase me around touching her eyeball, just to squick me out. Even typing this now makes my eyes water like crazy. The thought of my cornea detaching (::shudder::) literally makes sick to my stomach.
Second is that I’m more of a “rub some dirt on it!” kind of a guy, and absolutely not a “going to the doctor” kind of guy. I don’t know why exactly. It’s not like I’ve had some bad experience or something. But in any case, it’s got to be like bones-sticking-out-of-the-skin for me to go to the hospital (and even then…)
I only say this to try to explain my mental state. On one hand, I was absolutely sure that the worst possible thing was happening to me. On the other hand, well we don’t need all that fuss of like calling an eye doctor or anything, do we? It’ll be fine! Can’t we just, I don’t know, make an eye patch out of paper and masking tape or something?
So as I sat, agonizing in silence, I was rubbing my eyes like crazy and trying to blink the problem away. The shimmering crescent had expanded to the point that it had completely swallowed the peripheral vision on my right side. I completely couldn’t see. I tried covering first one eye and then the other, but it seemed like the crescent was there no matter which eye I covered up.
Based on this hard science, I deduced that either:
- Both of my corneas were falling off,
- I had developed a brain tumor, or
- I was experiencing a psychotic break
I kept thinking, “Have I been stressed out? Is this somehow stress related?”
At this point I decided that I had better go home. By the time I got out to the car, my vision was more or less returned. Even still, I called Sara to explain what was going on just in case I blacked out or totally lost my vision while driving. I was really freaked out and didn’t know if something was really, really wrong.
Well, I guess not, because it never returned. All that night and the next day, I was fine.
I was still a bit worried about it though, so I googled it. Apparently it’s pretty common, since I was immediately able to find lots of people describing exactly what I experienced, right down to the floating kaleidoscope crescent. It was so weird to read someone (many someones) describing exactly what I had experienced as though they were inside my head. It was just so specific.
When it is large, this crescent shaped blind spot containing this brightly flashing light can be difficult to ignore, and some people fear that they are having a stroke. In reality, it is generally a harmless phenomenon, except in people who subsequently get the headache of migraine. Since migraine originates in the brain, the visual effect typically involves the same side of vision in each eye, although it may seem more prominent in one eye or the other. Some people get different variations of this phenomenon, with the central vision being involved, or with the visual effect similar to “heat rising off of a car”. Some people describe a “kaleidoscope” effect, with pieces of the vision being missing. All of these variations are consistent with ophthalmic migraine.
So yeah, no big deal I guess? Having the vision center in your brain randomly malfunction doesn’t really seem like a “no big deal” kind of thing, but I guess it certainly sounds better than a brain tumor or my corneas falling off!