Saturday, July 14, 2007


A person could have been excused for thinking he was going blind today, if he was around here. There's just enough smoke in the air from wildfires that for much of the day the sun was a pale pink (OK, OK it appeared pale pink - I'm sure it's its same old self, up there the other side of all this stuff), and nothing looked quite normal. It's not so much that there wasn't as much light as normal, although that was a factor. It's that the light was incomplete, without all the usual parts of the spectrum. What my eyes registered just didn't seem right.

I got sort of used to it as the day went on, but never entirely used to it.

Just to make it more fun, my brain didn't always register it as the light not being right, but kept trying to tell me that my eyes weren't working right, that they were, in fact, failing. I could override the suggestion easily enough, since the air is obviously quite smoky, which nicely explained why I was having trouble seeing, especially since I have experienced red-shifted forest fire atmosphere several times before this -- but it wasn't pleasant being handed the thought to refute.

I suppose I might eventually adjust, if the lighting stayed this way a long time. I base that idea on personal experience. Fifteen/twenty years ago, something like that, I was involved in a freak accident in which one of my eyes got scratched. When I was in the ER, the doctor told me that I'd always have a scar on the eyeball, but eventually my brain would compensate for the distorted image and show me the world as it ought to look. He was right. I lived in a kaleidoscope world for a while, and then everything got normal again. I didn't do anything except hold out until my brain rewired itself. Well, I worried a bit, if you count worrying as doing anything. But the worrying proved needless.

The scar is still there. Sometimes I can trick my brain into acknowledging that. At night, if I cover my good eye and look at the moon or headlights with my wracked-up one, there are bent barbells where round discs are supposed to be. But otherwise I'd never know I was partially blinded, not from the evidence. I can't seem to get my brain to see distorted images, unless the overall light is very low and there's a bright object with definite edges, and I cover my good eye, and... especially if I then squint a bit...

Yes, Virginia, sometimes people really see what they want to see, without realizing how much they're editing the image...

I said above that I supposed that I'd probably adjust to strange light, but I do admit to some doubt about that. It seems to me that there have been studies about people who wear funny tinted glasses, or work in buildings illuminated with colored light bulbs. Haven't scientists found that, sometimes at least, abnormal light hitting the eyes for long periods affects brain activity or something?

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