Thursday, October 2, 2008

-- want to be a drug addict, or just look like one?

Just got back from an eye exam where they dilated my pupils to see the retina. Aside from looking like an addict of some sort because my pupils are oddly enlarged, I can't see that well either so I am probably acting weird too. Just now:
Taco place lady: Hi, can I help you?

Me (squinting at menu): Yes, I'd like one spinach burrito. No tortilla! In a bowl. Um. (squinting harder) Not a flour bowl! No edible bowl! Just a bowl. A to-go bowl. That's it, a to-go bowl. (holding menu away from me) Oh and no sour cream. None! But extra salsa. Please?

Taco place lady (staring hard over her glasses): Hmm, I SEE. (loooong pause before tapping on register.)

I'll spare you the rest of that totally awkward interaction but suffice it to say that I slinked off with my burrito, narrowly missing a collision with outdoor railing.

Historically, some women used to TRY to dilate their eyes, it was thought to make them more beautiful. They would use drops made from belladonna, the deadly nightshade plant (bella donna means "beautiful lady" in Italian). The active agent in belladonna is atropine and it prevents the ciliary muscles from contracting and thus the pupil is left wide open, paralyzed.

Atropine is still used for pupil dilation but it's not preferred since it takes days to wear off. Instead, they used tropicamide which is supposed to wear off in 2-3 hours for a brown-eyed person but 4-5 hours in someone blue-eyed. I'll let you know if that's true. *UPDATE 4 hours later: still dilated, though a smidge less.


The entire plant itself is dangerous if ingested (hence the name deadly nightshade). From botanical.com:

Belladonna's deadly character is due to the presence of an alkaloid, Atropine, 1/10 grain of which swallowed by a man has occasioned symptoms of poisoning. As every part of the plant is extremely poisonous, neither leaves, berries, nor root should be handled if there are any cuts or abrasions on the hands. The root is the most poisonous.

So, if you're out and about, don't eat this stuff, alright?

5 comments:

kevin forgot said...

you have nice eyes... must be because of the "eye doctor's" "prescription"... druggie

Kelly O said...

HA! Awesome. So glad you got a picture of it, and loved the taco lady story.

spleeness said...

@kev: not fair!! It really was their doing! (lol)

hautepocket said...

Oh hell, too late. I sprinkled some on my cereal this morning. Just kidding. I didn't have cereal.

Kimmers said...

HATE going for my eye appointments... my eyes stay dilated for HOURS AND HOURS. It seriously puts me out of commission all day, lol. Last time I supposedly got some "fast acting" formula - yeah right.

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