Fun with floaters
If you’re tired of hearing about my eyes, feel free to move along. I’ll understand, since I’m tired of talking about them, thinking about them, worrying about them. It’s like I’ve had an eye obsession since my first surgery on January 9. For six months I’ve been preparing for surgery, recovering from it, having follow-up check-ups, getting sutures taken out, enduring my lifetime quota of “foreign body sensation,” keeping track of up to three different eye drops at a time, and asking innumerable questions about what’s going on. (Count your blessings; I don’t think I mentioned the pulled suture that made my eye start bleeding. You haven’t lived till the tears you’re wiping away turn out to be blood. Whee!) I’m thoroughly sick of it. But I thought it was all behind me when all the sutures were out, all the meds were stopped, and the new glasses were sitting on my nose.
Wrong. Last Sunday night I noticed a big, conspicuous new floater. Much bigger and more annoying than any I’ve had before. At first I thought there was a hair hanging in my face and tried unsuccessfully to brush it away. Then I looked to see if it was something caught on my glasses. Nope. Determined that the stray fiber thingy should not end up in my eye, I went to the bathroom for a magnifying mirror and bright light to see if some cat hair or something was hung in my lashes. Nope. Obviously, it was a floater.
This thing stretches top to bottom across the outer half of my left eye. A thready, cobwebby sort of thing with an obvious little black knot in it. When the knot snaps across my line of vision, it’s as though I’m being buzzed by a gnat.
Finally, after several days of fretting and vacillating between the conviction that it was just a harmless floater and the fear that it was an indication of a torn retina, I called the doctor yesterday and went to get it checked out. I wasn’t about to face an entire weekend of continued uncertainty. And besides, torn retinas are serious, serious business.
Long story short, it’s a harmless floater. I don’t know whether to be relieved it wasn’t associated with a torn retina or annoyed that it’s “just” a floater — meaning nothing can be done about it. Naturally it’s in my brand spankin’ new left eye, the one with 20/20 distance vision sans glasses. Not the right eye, which is slightly less perfect. Nope. Had to be the left one. Dammit.
Actually, it appears there are a couple of things that can be done about floaters. The first involves zapping them with lasers, if you feel confident letting somebody use a laser to take potshots at moving targets in your eye. My doctor scoffed at the mere mention. The other procedure is called vitrectomy, which involves letting someone puncture your eyeball and suck out the vitreous, floaters and all, and replace it with saline. Uh, no thanks. I’ve had enough eyeball puncturing.
Floaters, I’ve learned this week, are much more common in near-sighted people, which I was until six months ago; aging people, which I certainly am; cataract surgery patients, which I am; and diabetics, which I am not. Three out of four. Goodie.
I’ve always assumed everyone has floaters, even if only a few little dots or specks, probably because that’s what I’ve always had — just a few little dots or specks that are more curiosities than anything else, floating around like tiny transparent pet amoebae in the petri dishes of my eyes.
… sigh … Well, at least this is “just” a floater that may or may not fade, break up, disappear, or settle out of sight into the bottom of my eye. I’m trying not to imagine what else is about to happen to these eyes that nobody has thought to mention …