What have I done to my eyes?
October 22, 2013 9:30 PM   Subscribe

This afternoon I was running some errands. Much of the time I was driving directly into the sun, and now I have a blue smudge in the middle of my vision. What's happened? What should I do? Wait for it to get better, walk around with a mask over my eyes, rush to the ER, start planning for a life of semi-blindness?

I wasn't deliberating looking into the sun, but it was shining directly at me, and I was very concerned about traffic (downtown, rush hour). There was a lot of low level mist, so the glare was extensive.

When I first noticed the "smudge" it was reddish, but now is dark blue. It's on each eye, but much stronger on my left. I also see the smudge with my eyes closed; it's bright against the dark.

I know you're not my ophthalmologist, but if you are one, or if you have any experience with something like this, I'd welcome any advice. (It's the thought of all those mythic blind people after every solar eclipse that's really freaking me out.)
posted by kestralwing to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Jesus. That's gotta be some bright bloody sunlight. How long has this been going on? If it's longer than a couple of hours I'd be off to the doc's. Do you have any vision issues, historically?
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:47 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

How long has it been? Have you tried lying down with a cold cloth over your eyes?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:50 PM on October 22, 2013

Response by poster: It happened about 6 hours ago. Soon after it happened I put on a sleep mask and slept for 1-1/2 hours. Still there when I woke up.

I know that when you have eye pain you should get yourself to an eye doctor STAT, but this doesn't hurt, it's just a smudge in the middle of my field of vision. If I should do something now, it would mean going to the hospital ER, waiting......, getting them to get the eye doctor on call, waiting.... and then the Big Bucks.

Honestly, I'm hoping for someone who had exactly the same thing to tell me no biggie, gone by tomorrow. But if the consensus is Yikes! Get Help! -- well, I need to hear that.

posted by kestralwing at 9:55 PM on October 22, 2013

I am not a doctor. If it were me, I'd remove my contacts, go to sleep, and see if it improved in the morning. If it hadn't, I'd try to get an emergency ophthalmology appointment.
posted by jaguar at 9:56 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had a similar experience - driving into bright sunshine, broken sunglasses... It lasted for several hours afterwards but it did eventually fade. The best thing you can do for your eyes is not ask them to look at anything bright for a while.

(I'm reminded of a tale about Newton, who once stared at the sun for as long as he could stand, just to see what happened. His eyes eventually forgave him, but only after several days of lying down in a dark room).

If it hasn't improved by tomorrow, I'd go to an ophthalmologist sharpish.
posted by gmb at 10:01 PM on October 22, 2013

Best answer: Oh yeah...get off the computer!
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:02 PM on October 22, 2013

Best answer: Log off your computer, go lay down in a dark room and then see what happens in the morning. Still there? Get your ass to an ophthalmologist ASAP. Not there anymore? Yay, make an ophthalmologist appointment anyway and invest in some really good UVA/UVB blocking sunglasses. Actually, get the sunglasses either way.
posted by bedhead at 10:07 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

This happens to me when I've been out for a long time in clear skies - only then the bright light is blue, indirect light from the sky. For hours after dark, usually until I go to sleep, my vision is slightly cloudy and tinted yellow or green. When I wake up the next day, it's fine.
posted by WasabiFlux at 1:11 AM on October 23, 2013

Best answer: Guaranteed, nothing has permanently happened to your eyes. You don't even have to go into a state of 'full dark' - normal sleep will take care of that.

We don't live on a young Earth, newly formed with low capacity for light filtration. You were driving, in a car, with the sun shining on you. You blink frequently, you squint, you look side to side. Your eyes have evolved through much harsher times - this is a non issue for them.
posted by Kruger5 at 4:55 AM on October 23, 2013

I once set off a very bright studio strobe (think huge lights used in photo shoots) right in my face. I saw a large floater for the next 24 hours, even when I closed my eyes, but that was it.

If you still are seeing it tomorrow, I'd call the ophthalmologist.
posted by inertia at 11:43 AM on October 23, 2013

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