I just got back from the eye doctor, and my eyes are dilated and thus non-functional. I would have to schedule an eye appointment on a bright winter day with lots of snow around to increase the light reflection so that when I walked out of the office it felt like the sun himself had come down to earth and was standing between me and my van, and he was directing all of his sunbeams right into my corneas, sunglasses notwithstanding. Instant headache. I hoped the roads are empty on the drive home because I was going to have to shut my eyes the whole way to keep out Mr. Photon-torpedoes-right-into-the-optic-nerves Sun.
I came home, shut all the drapes in the house, turned off all the lights (um NO, I didn't leave the lights on while I wasn't home! Must have been the cats who turned the lights on), and searched by touch in my fabric pile for anything that could be used as a blindfold.
I can't read, I can't type (I don't know how I'm doing this), I can't do housework (darn!). How on earth did I manage 8 years of continual pupil dilation when I was 9-17 years old???
Yes, I was put on a steady diet of atropine eye drops (at first it was more of a goopy translucent paste, but after a year or so of the goop, I was given drops) to hopefully prevent blindness. Yes, the doctor hinted at blindness because my eyes were getting so bad so fast. He presented three options to my mother: let me go blind, have surgery, or try this new experimental idea--atropine drops to dilate the pupils during growth years. My mother opted for the atropine. As a mother I would have agreed to it too, and as a 9-year-old listening to this conversation, with my vision on the line and surgery on my eyes an option I did NOT want to consider, I hoped that Mom would chose the atropine as well.
Looking back, I really don't think I would have gone blind. I've been told my subsequent eye doctors that the experiment was never proven to actually work so I doubt my vision was at risk at all. But at the time I believed the doctor and I used to attempt to read braille just in case the treatment didn't work and I lost my sight. I somehow got hold of a braille alphabet and would poke holes in paper with a pin to simulate braille bumps to practice "reading." I never learned how to read it. So it's a good thing I didn't go blind.
The problem with dilation of the pupils is twofold: my eyes hurt when I went outside in the sunshine, and I couldn't focus on objects up close, which meant everything I would try to read was blurry. So I had to get polarized lenses (back before Transition lenses were popular) and they had to be bifocals so I could read.Can you see the bifocal lines in my glasses?
I used to get teased often for my glasses. Joe J. would call me "eight-eyes," a taunt that was exponentially worse to the preteen ear and ego than "four-eyes." Stupid Joe J. (Thank goodness I got over it)
Eight years of unending discomfort in bright light and eyestrain from constant and unsuccessful attempts to focus on things up close! (overdramatic faint)
I can't remember my exact reaction to being released from the eye drops regimen, but I imagine it was relief. No more glasses that turned dark when I went outside and took FOR. EVER. to return to clear once I went back in! No more lines in the middle of my lenses! No more having to lean my head back to look through the bifocal part to read my piano music while I played!
One good thing came out of it though, I could gross other girls out by touching my eyeball. Having put drops in for many years, I was not squeamish about putting finger to eyeball. And it made learning to put contact lenses very, very easy for me.
Slowly the dilation is losing its effect and Mr Sun has retreated nearly back to his normal place in the sky. I can read and knit again without strain.