One eyed for the day

I woke up this morning with pain, and redness, in my left eye. Originally I thought maybe it was some small and meaningless foreign body, and tried to wash the eye a few times, but that didn’t seem to help.

I went to see an eye doctor (A very good one, who also happens to be my father , so we’re in good relations), who found a few abrasions on the cornea. The shape fits something that sprayed into the eye, rather then the more likely cases of accidental brush against the pillow, or the blanket. Which is odd, since nothing sprayed into my eyes yesterday evening, or when I woke up today.

In any case, I got some antibiotic ointment, and the eye was bandaged. Bandaging eyes in this cases is done to help keep it closed. The abrasions on the cornea are like an open wound, and blinking the eyelid over it is like brushing against a skin wound, not something that assists healing. The ointment helps if whatever caused the abrasion was infected, but that’s not the main purpose. It is to grease the abrasion, so whenever eyelid flickers occur they will cause less damage, and so that airborne infections won’t reach the abrasion when the eye is open.

According to the law in Israel, it’s legal to drive a car if one eye can see 6/12 (That’s like 20/40 as usually measured in America. What matters is the ratio, and this means that from a distance of 6 meter you can see what an average person would from a distance of 12 meters, that is, double the distance). So if one eye is blind, and the other lets you see half as well as an average person, you can drive a car. So said the legislatures, and who am I to argue?

Let me tell you, though, that’s very hard. And my open eye has a better visual acuity than 6/12. What I mainly lost was the depth perception, since using a single eye makes it impossible to sense depth. It’s only possible to approximate, and deduce. There are plenty of visual cues that can be used, based on size, shadows, and so on. But it’s not at all the same as looking at something and just knowing it’s distance from something else. When the brain cannot superimpose two slightly different images, it can’t convert the differences to distance.

So the very short drive home from the clinic was difficult. I drove extra carefully, and extra slow, keeping excessive distance from every other car. Actually, if everyone drove like that all the time, we’d have a lot less traffic accidents. But driving like that because you have to, that doesn’t improve things. I certainly had no intention of taking a longer drive to work in this condition. And the fact that it’s entirely legitimate for everyone to drive like that is crazy. Once they get used to not having real depth perception, I assume drivers will drive just as fast and close as other drivers. That’s dangerous.

It’s also amazing how much different things look. My unbandaged eye sees perfectly well, so I’m not getting pictures which are worse than what I usually see. But everything feel different. Even 2D flat images, like from the computer monitor, books, and television, which I can see and read clearly, feel less… substantial, or realistic, I’m not sure what the exact term would be. Very annoying.

But luckily the thing should heal quickly, and either tomorrow, or the day after, I should be back to using two eyes. In the land of the blind the one eyed man may be king (assuming nobody dethrones him once the electricity goes out at night, but let’s not argue with a classic quote), but in the land of the two eyed men he has some obvious disadvantages…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.