Blown Pupil

Just What Is A Blown Pupil Anyway?

A blown pupil in the eye sounds much worse than it usually is. A blown pupil is not a pupil that has somehow been destroyed, leaving the eye irreparably damaged. A blown pupil is a medical term for a pupil which has become dilated and does not contract in response to light.



Anyone who has had an eye exam done by an ophthalmologist, not just fitting for prescription lenses, but a through examination of the eye, has experienced the effects of a blown pupil. In this case, medicated drops are placed in the eye which causes the pupils to dilate so the inner eye can be more easily examined. The pupil remains dilated for up to several hours and the individual being examined usually needs to wear dark glasses for a time to protect the eye against bright lights.

If you had a blown pupil that was a long term or chronic condition, it would be necessary to wear dark glasses almost all of the time, as the eye would not adjust to bright lights. This condition, a blown pupil, has a more scientific-sounding name, and that name is mydriasis. When one is affected with mydriasis, it means the muscles which control the opening and closing of the pupil are not functioning, or not functioning properly. Mydriasis is usually not a disease or disorder in itself, but is almost always brought about by another condition, that condition usually being either trauma to the head, or due to certain medications. Mydriasis is treatable and curable to the extent that the underlying cause is treatable or curable.

Drugs And Medications - There are many drugs and medications that can bring about the condition of a blown pupil, and not all of them are illegal. Many hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs, especially LSD and mescaline, as well as cocaine, will cause the condition, which usually goes away once the effect of the drug has worn off.  An overdose of certain anti-depressant drugs is a known cause. Even some antihistamines will bring on blown pupil symptoms, again with the eye returning to normal once the effect of the drug has started to wear off. Mydriatic drops is the medical term for the eye drops the ophthalmologist places in your eye. These drops are also sometimes used in the treatment of certain disorders causing spasms in the eye muscles, which can be quite painful.

The worst case scenario for a blown pupil is when someone dies. This should not be surprising, since upon death the brain ceases to function, and the muscles controlling the pupil relax, opening the pupil. A blown pupil is therefore one of the signs of death. If you die, your pupils will dilate. Fortunately the reverse is not usually true.

In The ER - In the emergency room a blown pupil can be a useful symptom, something like the canary in the coal mine, as it can indicate a severe head injury which otherwise might not be apparent. When you are admitted to an emergency room, unless you are gushing blood, the first thing an attendant will usually do is look at your eyes, to see if the pupils are dilated.

Some individuals can be affected with mydriasis without anything else being wrong. They simply have abnormally dilated eyes, with the dilation being full or partial. Such a disorder may or may not be easily treatable, but this type of mydriasis is actually rather rare. Such occurrences are usually based on genetics.

Summary - A blown pupil, the involuntary and semi-permanent dilation of the pupil, is something that is sometimes bad and at other times not so bad, is sometimes due to trauma and sometimes self-inflicted, and in some instances is even helpful in making a clinical diagnosis.