Sunday, April 20, 2008


A scotoma is "an area or island of loss or impairment of visual acuity surrounded by a field of normal or relatively well-preserved vision". In other words, a blind spot. And yours truly developed one a few weeks ago. My vision looked something like this:

Though, not as bad as in that picture. I had a light grey spot, not a black one. Thankfully, it's all but gone now thanks to the medication I was on (I'm still on some eyedrops and vitamins), but I have to confess it had me freaked out for a while there.

It appeared without warning one evening - it was the end of a particularly tiring day, and I sat down at my computer only to discover that everything was horribly blurred. I was marginally concerned, but put it down to tiredness and went to bed. It was, as I had hoped, better the next morning. In fact, I thought it had disappeared completely, but then I noticed that it was still a little difficult to read and that sometimes people's faces appeared blurred. Also, my eyes felt strained all the time. I still couldn't couldn't pin down what the real problem was, as it just seemed like slight irregular blurriness; I could still make things out clearly when I focused hard enough. Being the fool that I am, I thought I'd give it some time to go away on its own before seeing a doctor.

About a week later, I figured out what it was by chance. Incredibly, up to this point I hadn't tested each eye individually. Well, actually, I had but not with text. When trying to read with my right eye, I noticed that letters were horribly blurred. After a little experimentation, the grey spot suddenly stuck out like a sore thumb! When I blinked a black spot stood out for a fraction of a second before my eye apparently compensated for it (marvelous, eh?) and turned the spot grey. It was especially conspicuous when looking at white. Naturally, I googled the phenomenon and learned that it was called... a scotoma! At this point I was a little worried because it appeared that scotomas could be associated with all kinds of things - multiple sclerosis, tumours, brain injury - and some scotomas are apparently incurable. Needless to say, an urgent appointment with an eye specialist followed.

Have I mentioned that I'm paranoid? Probably. As you can imagine (or probably can't, actually), all kinds of nightmarish scenarios ran through my head, even though the rational part of me knew that, apart from the symptoms, I didn't have a clue about what was wrong. What if I needed surgery? What if it was permanent? Such were the thoughts that overwhelmed my fragile psyche. I'd rather lose a limb than an eye, or so I told myself while sitting outside the doctor's office. Actually, I still believe that - except for my right arm, which is quite useful (I know this last comment leaves me exposed to a very obvious joke, but so be it). After an interminable wait, it was finally my turn to see the doctor; following a brief examination using high powered lenses the doctor informed me that there was a swelling in my eye that was probably stress related, and that I should take the prescribed medication and take it easy for a while. I assured her that I wasn't stressed, but she seemed skeptical of my claims. Having dwelled on the notion for a while now, it occurs to me that perhaps I was fooling myself, because even though I don't have nearly as many problems as a lot of other people, I spend way too much time worrying about the ones I do have (and sometimes about ones I don't have). So it is entirely possible that I am, in fact, stressed.

Long story short, the medication alleviated the blurriness and strain within a few days, and the scotoma itself faded away to almost nothing after a couple of weeks. It seems to be all but gone now, though I have to continue treatment for a few more weeks. During my follow up visit I was assured by the doctor that it wouldn't recur and was also reminded once again about the importance of relaxing. Which is easier said than done!

Ah, the vicissitudes of life. I can't wait to see what curveball comes my way next. Actually, strike that - I can wait. I can wait a very, very long time, as a matter of fact...


CyberKitten said...

Nasty..... [shudder]

Darwin said...

Wow. That sounds freakishly scary and I don't blame you one bit for being paranoid and doing mental worse-case-scenarios, I'd be the same. I find it ironic how you're not supposed to get stressed about something that's rather scary and worrying, and that stress actually could be the cause of it - it seems like a vicious cycle!

Antimatter said...

Shudder is right! :)

Heh, yeah it does seem like a vicious cycle but I felt quite reassured after seeing the doctor. Though, if the medicine hadn't had such quick results that reassurance may have dissipated quite rapidly! :D

Pan/Thanatos said...

Dryness can cause that too, quite often. Sometimes it's like a little fly buzzing around in your eye. No matter how hard you try, you cannot focus on it. That used to drive me nuts as a child.

Miedy said...

Wow! That would scared me to death! I am glad it's gone though and hopefully it'll never comeback. Honestly I NEVER heard anything like this before so today I learn something new. Thanks for the information.

Antimatter said...

Pan, I think the problem involved some dryness of the eye as well, as the eyedrops I used were basically artificial tears.

Miedy... err, glad to be of service! :)