If someone ever says to you, “Wait, I think you need more atropine in your eye…” run away.

I agreed to dilate my right pupil today for an ophtho study protocol and spent the rest of the day squinting in a vaguely elderly way. Three hours later, I glanced in a mirror and stiffened in shock: my right pupil was blown so hard that the iris was just a thin circle, like the wheel of a mountain bike; my left pupil was pinpoint because the parasympathetics were trying so hard to compensate. (I’m sorry, CN III! I love you!) Basically, I looked like I had an impending herniation combined with a Pancoast tumor. As one of our professors would say, my eyes looked like Seizure-Coma-Death!

They say Renaissance women tried to enhance their beauty with atropine squeezed from the belladonna flower (hence the name). I say it’s a miracle that Renaissance women didn’t all trip and fall down the steps of their castles.

It’s not all negative, though. In addition to a terrible headache, I do now have a black and white picture of my retina to hang on my wall, and how many people can say that?

P.S. The first result on a Google Image Search for “belladonna” is this. Bellissima!


3 thoughts on “Atropine

  1. I used to take the stuff (with phenobarb) for IBS. I had lovely pupils after a dose! Belladonna is rather a pretty word though! (Just don’t drink alcohol with it, ugh.) I have a picture of my retina from our ENT section of clinical skills – we all put them on our fridges.

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