Category Archives: Random Ramblings

Millie-spotting

It was just a standard grey work day – albeit a Friday – and I was engrossed in working on a student appeal when one of my work colleagues sidled through the office door with a guilty air about her.  My heart sank as I wondered what had gone wrong with the ruddy website this time, but she surprised me by informing me in a somewhat overawed whisper, “I’ve just seen Millie Knight!”.  “Whaaaaaat?!”, I exclaimed in disbelief, “Where?!”.  “She’s buying something from the street kitchen!”, replied my colleague.

Without further ado, we both raced as fast as we could walked sedately back down the other end of the corridor to my colleague’s office, which offers a panoramic view of the rather misleadingly grandly named ‘Jarman Plazza’.  This is the outdoor area between the Jarman and Marlowe buildings, whose cold grey slabs pretty much just merge into the cold grey buildings on either side.  It floods whenever we have heavy rain and becomes a skating rink in the winter.  But anyway… I dashed over to the office window and proceeded to do that thing you see in films where the policeman parts the slats of the blinds and peers through suspiciously.  At this point, my colleague marched across the room and vigorously yanked the entire blind up by its frail cord.  We gazed out of the window, and there she was: Millie Knight, the Paralympic skier, wearing a dark blue GB sports top and ordering something from the street kitchen (a little mobile fast food outlet at one end of the ‘plazza’).  She was shortly joined by another lady and they sat down together with their food at one of the picnic benches.

“Ooooooh, I want to go and say hello!”, I squealed like a teenager at a boy band concert.  “Do it, do it!”, cried my colleague, with a huge grin on her face and all but clapping her hands in delight as she egged me on.  “Oh, but what would I say?!”, I wondered aloud in sudden panic.  “And I can’t really interrupt their lunch, can I?!  That would be a bit rude.  She must get sick of people bothering her.”  “Nooooo”, encouraged my colleague, “Just go!”.  At that point she had to leave herself – off to the University Sports Centre for a spot of netball practise.

I gazed out of the window once more, before reluctantly trudging back up the corridor to my own office, wondering if Millie would still be there when I went out for lunch at 1pm and how I could possibly manage to say hello if she was.  Upon asking various people for advice on what to say, I received replies ranging from the brief, “Congratulations” (on her two silver and one bronze medals in the recent Winter Paralympics), to the rather more detailed, “Hi Millie, my name’s Emma and I write blogs about RD (retinal detachment) and I wrote one about you called ‘Blind skiing’, as I think you’re so inspirational and incredibly brave.”

Needless to say, I (as usual) spent far too long thinking about it rather than taking action, and by 1pm Millie had vanished.  On the way to meet my friend for lunch across campus, I bumped into my aforementioned colleague who shall henceforth be known as ‘the Millie spotter’, returning from the Sports Centre.  “Did you say hello?”, she asked me.  “No… she’d gone!”, I wailed.  “You didn’t see her at the Sports Centre then?”, I asked hopefully.  “No”, she shook her head.  “Oh well, I might go and loiter outside for a bit just in case she’s there”, I said.  However, we agreed that it was probably unlikely that she was partaking in exercise after a street kitchen meal, which tend to look pretty substantial.

Despite loitering suspiciously outside the Sports Centre, there was no sign of Millie Knight and it became clear that I’d missed my chance.  I had no-one to blame but my own nervousness about meeting Scary New People and my irritating tendency to overthink everything.  But next time, I told myself firmly, I would be brave.  Next time, I would leap out of my seat and march across the Jarman Plazza with purpose.  Next time I would go and say hello.  Hmmm… I wonder if I’ll ever get the chance again…

Note: You can read more about the amazing Millie Knight in my post, ‘Blind skiing’.  Or, of course, you can just Google her and watch some of the incredible videos of her in action.  Warning: you may need a cushion to hide behind.

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Blind skiing

The potential prospect of being blind terrifies me.  The idea of skiing down a mountainside at crazy speeds fills me with fear on behalf of the person doing it.  So when one of my work colleagues asked me some months ago if I’d heard of Millie Knight, a blind skier, my jaw dropped in fascinated horror and amazement.  Of course, since the Winter Paralympics probably just about everyone is aware of Millie Knight, but at that time I knew nothing about her at all.  My colleague had read an article about her in our University Sports magazine (a publication which I’d never come across before, having pretty much no interest whatsoever in sport) which she kindly saved for me.

I learnt that Millie Knight is a nineteen-year-old visually impaired skier who  participated in the Sochi Winter Paralympics in 2014.  She’s lived in Canterbury all her life and was awarded an honorary doctorate of the University in 2017.  She lost the majority of the sight in her right eye when she was just a year old, as a result of an infection.  Five years later, the same thing happened to her left eye and she was left severely visually impaired with only 5% peripheral vision.  She started skiing at that time, first using her mum as her guide and then moving on to work with professional guides.  Her current guide is a chap named Brett Wild, whom she relies on to provide her with instructions via a bluetooth headset, which they both wear in their helmets in order to communicate.  He wears a bright orange jacket which she’s just about able to make out in the snow ahead of her as she has approximately two metres of peripheral vision.  If she loses sight of this bright orange splash of safety, she lets him know via their communication system.  It really is utterly astounding and I have so many questions about exactly how they manage it but for now I think I’ll just stick with being amazed.

However something which is, to me, even more impressive is the fact that in early 2017 she had two very serious crashes which badly affected her confidence, but despite this she managed to build herself up again and get back to skiing.  She’s said that she can’t actually remember having normal sight and that she doesn’t find skiing scary because she can’t see all the hazards ahead, but the crashes forced her to confront the danger of the sport.  The crashes really do sound horrendous.  The first left her with cuts to her chin after she skidded under an inflatable barrier which reinflated on top of her; and the second left her with concussion.  She’s won two silver medals and one bronze in the Winter Paralympics, which is pretty amazing evidence of the fact that she managed to conquer her fear and get back to skiing.  You can read her full story, complete with utterly terrifying video clips of her hurtling down a mountainside at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/skiing_blind_crashing_at_70mph.

Attributes of an RD patient

Working in a university means that I’ve heard an awful lot about ‘graduate attributes’ lately.  ‘Graduate attributes’ appears to be the latest buzz phrase in the plot to try and convince students that they’re not wasting their money and graduating with a mountain of debt in vain worthy aim of higher education institutions to not only provide students with a good solid education in their chosen field, but also to make them responsible, respectable and, above all, employable citizens.  Basically, ‘graduate attributes’ appears to be a marketing strategy to boost student recruitment and improve league table results set of qualities and skills which students are encouraged to develop during their time at university.  These vary from one institution to another, but typical examples include the following: confidence, digital literacy, adaptability, integrity, effective communication skills… the list goes on and on.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if tuition fees are actually trebled soon, if students continue to graduate with such impressively long lists of transferrable skills.

But I digress.  Hearing so much about ‘graduate attributes’ got me thinking about what the typical attributes of a seasoned retinal detachment patient might be.  So I set up a working party, a focus group, and a couple of committees and then came up with the following list:

  1. Patience
    Waiting in hospitals for appointments; waiting for our eyes to dilate; posturing for hours and hours with our heads stuffed into pillows, bones digging into mattresses, and muscles aching; waiting for gas bubbles to disperse; waiting and hoping that our retinas have successfully reattached…  It’s clear from all this that it’s pretty much impossible to be an impatient RD patient.
  2. Determination
    Those hours, days, weeks, and sometimes even months of painful posturing which we force ourselves through because we know it’s the one positive thing we can actually do to try and get the sodding retina to stick demonstrates our gritty determination in the face of physical and mental torture.
  3. Resilience
    This one is particularly appropriate for those of us who have had to endure multiple detachments and surgeries.  Our vision changes dramatically from blindness, to light perception, to weird wobbly shapes and crooked edges, to underwater fuzziness.  After each detachment and each surgery we have to accustom ourselves to further visual changes, but we get up again (once we’re given the all-clear to stop posturing) and we just keep ploughing on…  In fact, the lyrics of this song’s chorus seem particularly appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LODkVkpaVQA.  If you’re an RD patient, join me right now in having a listen and singing along to the chorus REALLY loudly.  🙂
  4. Anxiety
    Okay, now I get this is supposed to be a list of positive attributes, but I like to take a realistic approach.  Clearly the same can’t be said of ‘graduate attributes’ as neither ‘getting drunk on cheap beer in the student union’ nor ‘leaving half-eaten plates of mouldy food around in a shared house’ seems to feature on any of the lists I’ve read so far.  But anyway – unfortunately, anxiety certainly seems to be extremely common in RD patients.  Eyesight is precious.  It’s the sense which people fear losing above all others.  It’s therefore perfectly understandable that we often feel anxious about the very real risk of further sight loss.
  5. A sense of perspective
    As mentioned above, RD is grim and life-changing.  Eye surgery is frightening, and its after-effects of often overwhelming anxiety can be utterly exhausting at times.  However, I have found that this has led to a useful sense of perspective when faced with other unpleasant / dull / tedious / scary things I have to do.  I simply ask myself the question: “Is it as bad as eye surgery?”.  The answer, so far, has always been a resounding, “No”.  So then I just crack on and do whatever it is that I have to do.
  6.  Awareness of true friends
    They say you find out who your true friends are when you’re going through a hard time, and I can confirm this to be absolutely true.  It can be hugely upsetting and disappointing to discover that someone you’ve known for years and believed was an old friend is actually not a true friend; however with number 5 in mind, I’ve learnt that it’s better not to waste time on such people.  Instead, it’s far more helpful to focus on the genuine people in our lives and enjoy spending time with them.
  7. Extended swearing vocabulary
    When your retina detaches again, and again, and again, and AGAIN (okay, you get the picture), a short, sharp explosion of expletives can prove to be extremely satisfying in releasing pent up frustration.  It turns out that there’s a wide variety of adjectives with which to describe a retina which won’t remain attached, apart from ‘sodding’.

So that’s my list of RD patient attributes.  If you can think of anything else which you believe should be on that list, just let me know in the comments below!  Writing this post has made me realise that I’ve learnt some far more valuable lessons from dealing with RD than I did during my three years as a student.  Never mind my 2.1 in Art and English; I just wish I could graduate from my RD experience with 6/6 vision…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” (erm…)

Note: Musical accompaniment for this blog post can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFtb3EtjEic

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, crooned the voice on the radio as I sat at my table wrapping presents and swearing under my breath after losing the end of the sellotape for about the eighth time in the past ten minutes.  “No it bloody well isn’t!”, I declared aloud with feeling.

Suddenly, the music did that audible slow-motion type thing where it noisily jangles into silence, there was a loud bang from the radio, all my Christmas cards fell off the bookshelf, and I beheld before me not an angel but a smartly dressed man wearing a suit complete with bow tie.  He also had an expression on his face which didn’t look entirely happy.  “What did you say?”, he demanded with an American twang.  “Errr, who are you and what are you doing?”, I spluttered in response, my eyes almost popping out of my head which couldn’t be good for my retinas.  “I’m Andy Williams”, he replied, “And that’s my song you’re insulting.”  I stared at him, wondering if I’d poured half a bottle of brandy into my tea by mistake and was suffering from alcohol-induced hallucinations.  “But I thought Bing Crosby sang that song!”, I stuttered, closing my eyes and opening them again in much the same way as I switch my computer off and on again when it encounters a problem.  It didn’t work.  He was still there.  And he actually looked even more annoyed.  “Oh no – Bing didn’t sing this”, he said, “This is my song.  But what I want to know is, how can you possibly think that it’s not the most wonderful time of the year?  Most people think it is!”  He stared at me accusingly, with one eyebrow raised.  “Well I’m not most people”, I retorted.  “And it certainly isn’t the most wonderful time of the year if you’ve had five lots of eye surgery for multiple retinal detachments and have an eyeball filled with silicone oil!”  He looked bemused.  “You haven’t been reading my blog, have you?”, I accused him in turn.  He shook his head slowly.  “Well, you might want to start with the post, How it all began, I advised, “But basically, there are quite a lot of things at this time of year which are a bit of a nightmare for people who’ve had retinal detachments.”  He nodded, indicating that I should continue.

I took a deep breath.  “Well, for starters – we only get about seven hours of proper daylight in the UK at this time of year.  That means a lot more driving in the dark, which is much more difficult and needs loads more concentration than it does if your eyes are working properly.  Then along with the winter we get icy weather and I worry about falling over and banging my head, which I’ve expressly been told by a surgeon not to do.  It doesn’t help that my workplace never grits the sodding paths properly when the weather’s really icy.  And all those Christmas lights…”  I trailed off, metaphorically rolling my eyes in despair.  “They’re just beautiful, aren’t they?”, he said, admiringly.  “No!”, I snapped.  “They’re not, actually.  They’re a complete nightmare for people with eye issues.  Have you seen what my ruddy street looks like at the moment?”  He shook his head.  “Come on – follow me”, I instructed him.

I stomped off into the kitchen and flipped up the window blind.  An array of dazzling, multicoloured lights flashed and blinked erratically from the opposite houses, like a scene from ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’.  “The other day when I walked through my front door coming home from work, I saw a flash”, I told him.  “So I kept moving my eyes around and staring at the wall where I’d seen it to work out whether it was a flash inside my eye or something external.  Eventually, I figured out that it was the lights on that house opposite, shining through the tiny windows on my front door and reflecting back off part of the door frame to my living room, as they reached a certain point in their series of various flashing patterns.”  I flipped the blind closed, went back into the living room and sat down heavily on the sofa with my head in my hands.  “Have you any idea how terrifying it is when you see a flash and think your retina might be detaching AGAIN?”, I half wailed.  He shook his head, looking somewhat chastened.  “No, I don’t”, he replied honestly.  “But I think I can understand now why this isn’t the best time of year for you.  Perhaps you can enjoy some parts of it though?”, he asked, hopefully.  “Oh yes”, I agreed, “I definitely will.”  With that, he smiled and then promptly vanished into thin air, rather like the last remnants of a gas bubble after a vitrectomy.

“Well, you might at least have picked up all the Christmas cards before leaving”, I muttered to myself as I collected them from the floor and carefully stood them back on the bookshelf.  At that point, the radio crackled into life again with the start of a familiar tune.  I groaned, but surprise prevented me from switching it off as the lyrics kicked in:

It’s the most frustrating time of the year
For people with RD and rubbish acuity
Who struggle to see
It’s the most frustrating time of the year!

It’s the crap-crappiest season of all
With those slippery pathways and fear of head trauma
In case of a fall,
It’s the crap-crappiest season of all!

More darkness than daylight
Unbearable bright lights
And flashes wherever we go.
More glary than fairy
And really quite scary
For those with eye problems, you know!

It’s the most frustrating time of the year
With shops crammed with people,
More there to bump into
And music so loud!
It’s the most frustrating time
Yes the most frustrating time
Oh the most frustrating time
Of the year!

[Hic]  I haven’t really been on the booze.  Honest.  But here’s wishing all my eye buddies, fellow bloggers, friends and family a very happy Christmas and a happy and healthy 2018.  😉

Don’t pretend to be a stupid person!

If you read my last blog post, ‘Hunt the optometrist: round 4‘, you’ll know that I went for my ‘normal’ eye test a couple of weeks ago.  I use the word ‘normal’ loosely, as sadly my pesky peepers will never again fit into that longed-for category.  So fearful was I that the optometrist might find something wrong that I booked the very first eye test appointment of the day, just to ensure that I had time to hot-foot it up to Moorfields on the train if necessary.  But I digress…

The reason I’m writing today’s blog post is not to talk about my own eye test, but yours, dear reader.  Yes… yours!  When did you last have an eye test?  Normally (there’s that word again), people are advised to have one every two years.  That includes children, in case you’re wondering.  In fact, it’s particularly important for children to get their eyes tested regularly, as they may not be aware of what ‘normal’ (aaarrggh!) vision should look like, and any visual problems are likely to affect their educational development.  It can be tricky keeping up at school with waffy vision.  A standard eye test will take approximately 30 minutes every couple of years – that’s really not much of a commitment to make in order to look after your vision, is it?  If you’re in the UK, you can even find vouchers for free eye tests – just Google ‘free eye test vouchers’.

Since my eye problems began, I’ve been keen to nag harass threaten encourage people to realise the importance of taking care of their eyes by going for regular eye tests.  Of course, the main reason for my concern is that if more people do this, any problems are likely to be picked up far more quickly and hence there won’t be even more people clogging up the already packed hospital eye clinics.  This will be a huge plus for myself and my long-suffering eye buddies.  But apart from that, here are a few more reasons why regular eye tests are so important:

  • Some eye conditions don’t have any obvious symptoms and can progress very gradually – for example glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts.  An eye test can pick up early signs of sight-threatening conditions such as these, so that they can be treated swiftly, allowing a better chance of a successful resolution.
  • Other health conditions – for example diabetes – can be detected as a result of an eye test.  Again, once diagnosed, people can get treatment more quickly.
  • Often people don’t realise that they need glasses or contact lenses because changes in eyesight can occur very gradually and people just assume that as they get older their eyesight will get worse.  By having an eye test and sorting out any problems, people can improve their vision and therefore their quality of life.  Why peer and squint if you don’t have to?!
  • With the above in mind, it’s particularly important for people who drive to get their eyesight checked regularly, to ensure that they meet the requirements for driving.
  • Eyes are the second most complex organ in the human body, after the brain, and you only get one pair.  Treat them with respect.
  • Finally, a frightening statistic from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness: 80% of blind people in the world are avoidably so.  Don’t find yourself contributing towards that statistic!

Faced with all that, why on earth do people not just ruddy well go and get their eyes tested regularly?  I’m not entirely sure, but I think the main reasons are: misplaced confidence (i.e. “My eyesight is great; I don’t need an eye test!”); fear of having to wear glasses as it’s often associated with getting older; or just plain laziness.  Regarding the first reason – if that’s the case, then go and get it checked and then you can gloat freely about having perfect eyesight.  Concerning the second reason – your vision is far more important than your vanity: get a grip.  As for the third reason – pffft, I have no time for laziness!

It frustrates me when people appear to be so blase about their sight, and when family or friends treat their eyes so casually I actually find myself getting genuinely upset about it.  It’s a tricky one, because of course I don’t want to hassle people, and there’s only so much I can do on the encouragement front.  I thought I’d cracked it with a certain person a few weeks ago by casually presenting her with a voucher for a free eye test, which I’d been given.  This is someone who confessed to me some time ago that she hadn’t had an eye test since she was a child and when faced with my dropped jaw, she’d insisted that her sight was excellent and therefore she didn’t need a test.  I was even more dismayed the other day when I mentioned the voucher and she replied that she might not use it after all!  Horses and water sprang to mind and it was clear that there wasn’t much point in reitterating all the benefits of having regular eye tests.  Instead, I stifled a frustrated groan, sighed a huge internal sigh of disappointment, and pointed out only half-jokily, “But you’re an intelligent person!  Don’t pretend to be a stupid person – get an eye test!”  I’m not sure whether she will, but I did ask her to pass the voucher on to someone else if she doesn’t intend using it herself.

I shall end this post with a plea directly to you, dear reader.  Yes… YOU!  Now, clearly you’re pretty intelligent, wouldn’t you agree?  Have you had an eye test in the past couple of years?  If not, please go and get it sorted.  Don’t pretend to be a stupid person.

Tooth hurty!

One of my friends has an extensive repertoire of eye-rollingly bad jokes – most of them obtained from ‘The Ha Ha Bonk Book’.  That’s a children’s joke book, in case you’re wondering.  Whenever she receives the reply, “Two thirty” to her casual enquiry, “What’s the time?”, she’ll take delight in responding, “You’d better go to the dentist’s then!”.

And that is exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago, after waking up at 3am with stonking toothache, radiating from the area of a wisdom tooth which periodically flares up a bit.  This time, however, it was more than just a bit as it kept me awake for the rest of the night.  When I arose with the dawn I stomped to the bathroom and peered, blearily-eyed, into the mirror with my mouth opened wide, using a torch to illuminate the angry red mass adjacent to my tonsils.  After a few minutes of angling, peering, and yelping, I decided it would be prudent to stop in case I managed to smash the mirror with the end of the rather long torch and so sentence myself to seven years of bad luck.  I breakfasted on lukewarm tea, slurped through the opposite side of my mouth from the offending tooth, tiny bites of soft banana, and a couple of ibuprofen, and then headed off to the dentist’s.  I felt particularly disgruntled by this turn of events as it was the last day of my week of annual leave (which I’d hoped would work miracles on the relaxation front, leading to a renewed and revitalised me), and my birthday was in two days time.  No sweet treats or birthday cake for me, then… 😦

I reluctantly lay back in the dentist’s chair, fearing for my oil-filled RD eye as well as my aching wisdom tooth as I obeyed the dreaded instruction to “open wide” with an internal sigh whilst gripping the edge of the chair.  “Oh dear, yes, I can see exactly what the problem is!”, exclaimed the dentist, which did nothing to calm my frayed nerves as I proceeded to visualise my tooth hanging by a bloody thread with a puscular mass of green gunk welling up from deep inside the gum.  Fortunately, it wasn’t actually that bad: I just had a severely inflammed gum.  “It often happens when you get a bit of food stuck and if you’re a bit low and tired it can cause everything to flare up”, the dentist explained, leading me to wail, “But I’ve only just had a holiday!”.  He was all set to prescribe antibiotics as a precaution in case it got worse over the weekend, but then retreated to ‘The Drugs Bible’ when I told him that I’d had multiple retinal detachments and would need to be sure they were safe for me to take.  I was vaguely aware of recent research which had found a link between certain antibiotics and RD, and so I wasn’t prepared to take any chances.  After deliberating, he decided he didn’t want to give me antibiotics until I’d checked with Moorfields as to which ones would be okay.  When he noted that it would be good to get an updated medical history from me for the records I reacted with surprise, explaining that I’d done that at my annual check-up appointment just a couple of months previously.  “Oh!”, he said, in equal surprise, peering at the computer screen.  “All it says here is, ‘seeing doctor about her eyes'”.  Genius.

Instead of antibiotics, he gave the offending tooth a good clean-out (ouch) and advised continuing with ibuprofen and salt water mouthwashes.  When I got home, I rang the Moorfields advice line about the antibiotics query, whereupon I was put through to their pharmacy.  First, I was told that I’d need to check with my consultant; then I was told that the Canadian study which found a link between certain antibiotics and RD was flawed; and finally I was told that the antibiotics the dentist had suggested would be fine and the important thing was to take whatever was the best for my tooth.  All of this advice was given by the same person and did nothing to ease my niggling doubts on the issue.  I’ll be seeing my consultant in November and so will ask about antibiotics then, but unless I definitely need to take them, I don’t  really want to bother him in the meantime.  I’m pretty sure that the Canadian study led to warnings being included on the boxes of certain antibiotics, which suggests that there is a cause for concern regarding these specific ones.  And as for taking whatever was the best thing for the tooth… surely the whole picture needs to be considered?!  I mean, a decent medical professional wouldn’t just hand out aspirin to treat the heart condition of a haemophiliac, would they?  Okay, I admit that I know next to nothing about haemophilia or heart conditions, but you take my point.

Anyway… fortunately, after dosing up on ibuprofen and swilling my mouth out with the contents of the North Sea, the toothache gradually retreated and the gum seems to have returned to its normal size.  I’m still treating it cautiously and am hoping that it won’t flare up again… or at least not until after my next Moorfields appointment in November anyway.

Note:  The group of antibiotics which have been linked to RD are Fluoroquinolones.

Note 2:  ‘The Ha Ha Bonk Book’ is by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and comes highly recommended by my hilarious friend.  If anyone can explain the joke concerning Tarzan, Jane, and colour-blindness on page 16, please do let me know.  This has been something which has puzzled my friend since the tender age of 7 and she’s now reached the ripe old age of 40 but so far, nobody has been able to explain it.

Eye-opening facts about our peepers

I’ve learnt a heck of a lot about eyes in the past three years.  The only problem is, as with many things, the more I learn the more I realise there is to learn.  But anyway, I thought it would be fun to compile a little list of some of the more fascinating facts about our eyes…

  • Only one sixth of the human eyeball is exposed.
  • The human eye weighs approximately just under an ounce (28 grams).
  • Our eyes are composed of more than two million working parts.
  • Eyes are the second most complex organ in the human body, after the brain.
  • Our eyes actually project an image onto our retina which is upside down and inverted, and our brain then flips the image.  George Stratton, an American psychologist, conducted an experiment whereby he wore an adapted lens which meant that everything he saw appeared to be inverted and upside down.  After a few days, his brain adapted and he began to see things the right way up once more.
  • The active ingredient of dilation drops is atropine, derived from Deadly Nightshade.  I told my sister this just before one of my eye appointments, and she looked at me with such horror that I felt it necessary to check with the consultant that it’s okay to keep having my eyes dilated.  Fortunately, he said it’s fine…
  • Approximately 50% of the brain is used for seeing and vision.
  • 80% of our memories are determined by what we see.
  • According to research by RNIB, 44% of UK adults said they feared losing their sight more than any long-term health condition, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, and having to use a wheelchair.
  • People generally read text on screen 25 times more slowly than on paper.
  • On average, we blink around 28,000 times per day, and 15-20 times per minute, unless staring at a computer screen, in which case we don’t blink enough.  Now you’re making a conscious effort to blink more as you read this, aren’t you?  🙂
  • 20/20 (or 6/6) vision isn’t ‘perfect vision’ as is often assumed – it’s just normal vision.  However, in my book, there isn’t anything ‘just’ about normal vision…
  • People who were born with sight but later went blind can still see in their dreams, whereas people who were born blind don’t see images in their dreams.  (I feel I need to check this with someone who’s been blind from birth…)
  • Forget 50 shades… the human eye can distinguish 500 shades of grey.
  • Mascacra wands cause the most cosmetics-related eye injuries.  (Maybe that’s why I cringe whenever I see someone applying eye makeup.)
  • One eyelash has an approximate lifespan of five months.
  • The word ‘pupil’ is derived from the Latin ‘pupillus/pupilla’, meaning a little child or doll, as a description of the tiny reflection of your own image which you see when looking into someone’s eye.
  • Don’t share the above facts with someone who suffers from ommatophobia (fear of eyes).  I haven’t yet found a word which means ‘fear of retinal detachment’, but I know a lot of people who have this, so perhaps we should invent one?  Suggestions via the comments below, please!  😉