As soon as I saw them, I knew the flashing lights meant trouble. Slowly I lost the center of my field of vision and could no longer read the gauges on the car dashboard. The display rapidly bloomed in both eyes. Flashing, multicolored rays zigzagged through the night sky. My retinas had gone to Vegas, baby, and the party was hopping...
"Honey, I don't think I can drive anymore. We need to go home."
My husband looked at me from the passenger seat. He said nothing, but I could feel him tense up with worry. We were lucky to be close to our apartment. I managed to park the car and get myself upstairs without incident, even though I was effectively blinded. The cat cuddled close by as I lay in bed, waiting for the storm to pass. Twenty minutes later I could finally see again. I opened my eyes and there was my little world, looking just the same as it always had. I closed them and saw blessed, serene darkness, a night sky with no moon. Silently I offered a prayer of thanks and relief.
"Retinal detachment" pops into my head every time this sideshow happens. As scary as it is, however, the true cause is (for once) not directly related to my diabetes. It's an ocular migraine, or migraine with aura. I suffered the first one in my early teens, and have had them once or twice every couple of years since then. Tonight was the same as always, complete with the usual terrifying special effects. My only luck is that I never get the post-aura headache, nausea or other typical symptoms. But I think I would trade them all for these silent, sudden monsters. They seem a particularly cruel way to torment someone who already has such a high risk for eye problems.
My ophthalmologist reassures me that ocular migraines are harmless. I hope so, although when one hits me I cower in fear, wondering if I'll be able to see when it's over. Is this what it's like to go blind? I wonder; I kick myself for all the times I let my diabetes get out of control; I beg and plead with God for the continued gift of sight. And every time my vision returns, I realize anew how fragile and precious my eyesight really is.