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Fighting sleep during an eye examination

Updated on October 27, 2010

My eye

Trying keeping your eyes like this for twenty minutes.
Trying keeping your eyes like this for twenty minutes.

If you are writing hubs daily and have an appointment for an eye examination, I strongly recommend that you finish your hubbing by 9pm and then go to bed and get a very good night's sleep.  This way you will be able to guarantee that you do not have to endure an experience like mine.

1am is just too late for me to stay up.  It's certainly too late for me to stay up two nights in a row.  And it's definitely too late for me to stay up two nights in a row when I have a lens check the next day.  I knew this when I carried on hubbing into the night, but we all know how addictive hubbing can be.  And also, if I had gone to bed at a reasonable time I would not have provided myself with this hub topic.

I waited in the waiting area at the opticians, jotting down some hub ideas that turned out to be useless because of my tiredness.  When I was finally called in for my examination I was very bleary eyed and knew I was in for a wretched few minutes.  I actually revived slightly just for a minute or two.  The optician shone a white light into my right eye, and I enjoyed seeing the blood vessels reflected on ... whatever I was seeing them reflected on.  Very fascinating.  But the optician was taking a good look at the scratch that I have on the surface of my eye, and was in no apparent rush to get me out of his office.  I soon felt my consciousness slipping after the novelty of the white light had worn off.  

Ordinarily, when we start to feel drowsy, we can perhaps yawn and stretch, and even rest our eyes by closing them for a few seconds.  Quite obviously, none of these things can be done during an eye examination.  So I sat, concentrating fiercely on keeping my eyes open and still.  Now, have you ever noticed what eyes do if you try to keep them open as you're starting to fall asleep?  The eyeballs themselves jump and stutter, like a record player needle when it reaches the end of a record, and you can almost hear that same crackle as the eyes refocus and refocus every half second.  Jump, jump, jump.  

Now, of course, once you have noticed that you are falling asleep the impulse to close your eyes and drift off grows stronger.  Here I was able to employ the experience of three years' worth of lectures: sitting through edifying talks on the history of theatre seating, or Shakespeare's use of the word 'thee', gave me confidence in my own endurance capabilities.  I had developed outstanding staying awake skills, and during the eye examination I had to put these into practice as never before.  This was my toughest test yet.

Jump, jump, jump.  I was beginning to think that the examination was taking so long because of my eye refusing to stay completely still.  Then a little paranoia set in, as I started to wonder whether the optician had recognised my desire to have a power nap where I sat.  I had a little day dream about how many people had actually succumbed and had dropped off for a few seconds.  How embarrassing to lose consciousness for a moment, especially if you were to snore.

Suddenly the light changed to blue, and this was worse; a very relaxing royal blue, the colour of summer nights.  I was being tested to my limits - I had never had blue light inflicted on me in a lecture.

But if I thought that blue light might finish me off, it was nothing compared to what happened next.  Local anaesthetic was dropped into my eye, and within seconds all feeling was gone.  I now knew that sleep was inevitable.  There was nothing more I could do to avoid it.  As the optician continued to ask me to look up, and to look down, to look to the left, and to look now to the right, I could feel my eyelids beginning to droop, and I no longer had the strength to stop them.  I was going to fail.

Then something unexpected happened.  The optician ... sighed.  It was rather a deep sigh of frustration, born of his inability to ascertain the extent of the damage on my eyeball.  The force of his breath, infused with the essence of stale coffee, came at me like one of J.K. Rowling's very own dementors intent on sucking out my soul.  Instantly I was wide awake, thinking happy thoughts and trying to remember the right words for the incantation to summon a patronus.  (Sincerest apologies to those readers who are not familiar with the work of Rowling - here is a link for you: Harry Potter.)

Before I had a chance to test out my magical power however, the lights flicked on and the examination was over.


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