Thu, 21 Sep 2006

Temporarily blind

The other day I had an “incident” involving my vision. It has nothing to do with the vision problems many people had the other day, when someone posted some pr0n on various Planets.

For some time already, maybe two or three years, I've had this weird vision problem at times, when I'd start seeing some black stains with some flashing “lights“, even with my eyes closed. These symptoms would go away after a few minutes, and washing my eyes with a good amount of water also helped. It happened a lot during mornings, and I somehow connected it to showering with too hot water, using a certain brand of shampoo (Say no to Revlon!) and shower vapour. When I described the symptoms to my mother, the reaction was the expected in a house of doctors and nurses: indiference. En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo, for those who understand it.

On Sunday I stayed up helping Belén with her DEA paper until 5AM. I woke up at 7:30AM, and stayed at work like a zombie, until I had a chance to have a needed nap at 6PM. The problem was my nap was a bit longer than I wanted, and woke up at 9:15PM, still tired but no longer sleepy. I wasn't sleepy until 4AM, and next morning I accidentally overslept, and rushed out of the bed to get to work as soon as possible.

While preparing, I suddenly noticed my vision went a bit blurry and strange. I thought it just was one of those ”stains”, until I closed my right eye to rub it and all I saw was darkness.

I totally freaked out. “OMFG, I'm fucking BLIND”. I wanted to phone someone, but wireless had broken down and I didn't have my mobile phone with me, so I tried looking at a text file I have in the laptop with some numbers on, when it ran out of battery. I grabbed my old mobile and failed to introduce the correct PIN three times.

I went to the bathroom, covered my right eye, and yeah, there was darkness. If I waved my hand over my blind eye, I would barely notice some movement on the left side, but that was all. Still very frightened, I washed my eye thoroughly and to my relief, I was able to see the upper part of my field of vision. After some more, I had recovered all my sight. Whew.

I managed to speak to Raül on the phone, who told me this probably wasn't too bad, just the optic nerve being tired due to stress and so on. My mother also asked an opthalmologist at her hospital the day after, who confirmed this. It's probably caused by my recent whacky sleeping habits (basically non-existing), general stress, and long exposures to computer monitors. The doctor asked her if I had a headache, which I didn't the day before, but I had one the day after, when she asked. “How do you know?”, I replied.

Last night I went to bed at 00:05 and managed to sleep eight hours for the first time in many months. I'm really going to make an effort to fix my sleeping habits, because they were quite fucked up lately, not catching up sleep even during weekends. On Monday I'll visit the doctor anyway, just to confirm all of this.

Coincidentally, Russel Coker also had similar symptoms this week, and also blogged about it.

Go to the hospital!

I have one friend that had that kind of problems and it was a little vein on the eye that was obstructed, causing an increase in the pressure of liquids of the eye. That causes pressure on the nerve and all the things you mention.

If it's that it is important that you go to the hospital ASAP or the nerve could be damaged. They could reduce the pressure on the eye easily.

Good luck.

Posted by bisho at Thu Sep 21 21:17:39 2006

flashing lights (particularly in your peripheral vision) and "floaters" can be a sign of lattice degeneration, which can eventually lead to retinal detachment. A family history of diabetes or high blood pressure would be make it more likely. Your eye doctor will probably want to dilate your pupils to take a good look at your retina. Retinal detachment is pretty bad, but if they catch things early on, there are corrective measures.

I haven't had any experiences quite like yours, but I have the family history and the beginnings of lattice degeneration so my eye doctor warned me to come see her immediately if I did experience any symptoms like you described.

In short: don't stress too much, but definitely see your eye doctor ASAP. And it sounds like you should get more sleep.

Posted by anders at Thu Sep 21 21:19:53 2006

See an optician.

Get more sleep.

Have a thyroid function test.

Read "Counting Sheep" by Paul Martin.

Posted by Simon at Thu Sep 21 23:44:47 2006

My optometrist told me that floaters WITHOUT flashing lights (as I have) probably isn't a sign of trouble, but the flashing lights could be a sign of retinal detachment.

Posted by Mike at Fri Sep 22 00:03:30 2006

For holistic eye therapy, I'd recommend the Bates Method [].

I used it when I had eye trouble, and it definitely helped.

Posted by Vincent at Fri Sep 22 00:19:30 2006

You had it much worse than me.  Good luck on your recovery!

In the near future I will blog about Super Size Me and how it inspired me to improve my diet.  You might consider avoiding junk food as well (I assume like most people and particularly most people in the computer industry you eat a reasonable quantity of bad food).

Posted by Russell Coker at Fri Sep 22 02:40:16 2006

Xic, cuida't i dorm! En privat et suggereixo trucs per a dormir de cop si ho patissis per l'insomni.

Posted by Toni Hermoso at Fri Sep 22 11:34:35 2006

I've been experiencing this same phenomenon for 6 years since I was 18. Initially I was told it was "just part of growing up" but none of my friends had this experience. According to my neurologist and my independent research on the topic they're called Retinal or Ophthalmic Migraines, depending on the person they may or may not be accompianied with a more conventional migraine. Recently mine have been recurring every 14 to 20 days and last anywhere from 5 to 20 mins long. I've yet to find what triggers mine, and not much seems to alleviate them. There has been little headway with medicines to help with them, but a neurologist may suggest you start on preventitive medicines to see if that helps.

Posted by TJ Fontaine at Fri Sep 22 17:12:17 2006

I am not a doctor, but

Asymmetric vision trouble can be a symptom of a stroke. Unless you have good reason to rule out this possibility, please consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Posted by christophe at Fri Sep 22 19:15:45 2006

I second all the comments here about retinal detachment. That was my first thought too. Black spots, flashing lights, floaters... you have all the signs. Are you sure this opthalmologist knew everything? I would see a doctor NOW, not Monday.

Posted by ben at Sun Sep 24 08:59:20 2006

I just went completely blind in my left eye for about one minute, maybe less.  I have had a rugged day, but was at home in bed having just finished a nice dinner.  Thank goodness I could still see out of the other eye just fine or I would have completely panicked.  I had no idea WTF just happened so I wound up here on the internet.  Having had these floaters and dancing lights off and on for years, thanks to your advice, I am going straight to the doctor (NOW.)

Posted by Scott at Wed Aug 15 06:22:57 2007

Good luck, Scott!

Posted by Jordi at Thu Aug 16 17:35:29 2007