Monday 25 July 2016

Eye Am Seeing Things and Eye Wish It Were Not So.

Every time I turned around this weekend, I was seeing things. A cat where there was none. A fly where there was none. A spider where there was none. Etc., etc.

No, we don't have ghosts. That I know of. And no insect infestations. We do have cats, but not in the places I thought I was seeing them - waist height in thin air, for instance.

What I'm seeing is floaters in my eyes, and especially, this weekend, in my left eye. Floaters have been my constant companions for many years now. Most people will get a few as they age - they are bits of tissue that come free from the interior of the eye as it gets older - but mostly the bits tend to "disappear," by which eye doctors mean they will settle within the eye, and, short of getting stirred up, will not interfere with vision.

I had a few extra show up a half a dozen years ago, and those ones came with flashing lights. I'm more afraid of losing my vision than any other medical loss, and I was aware that floaters plus lights were a warning sign of possible problems, so I got checked out right away. Luckily, things were fine.

Then two years ago I noticed a small loss of peripheral vision in one eye, and this time things were not fine. I was hustled to the regional hospital for immediate surgery for retinal detachment.

During the procedure, the eye surgeon removed a little of the fluid in my eye and replaced it with a bubble of gas. Not the kind that you put in your car, more like a bubble of air. The gas bubble helps keep the retina in place while the lasered repair is healing, and is slowly absorbed over the next few weeks.

The most wonderful part about this surgery was that my sight in that eye was saved. I am so thankful to live in a time when this problem can be repaired.

A close second in the "wonderful" category, though, was that the surgeon was able to remove my biggest floaters along with the bit of fluid he took from my eye. For several years I had been straining to see through or around a couple of large, translucent floaters. Unlike dark floaters, translucent ones don't settle. They caused quite a bit of eye strain and limited the number of hours I could work at my office job. It was a huge relief to be rid of them.

Unfortunately, the surgery itself caused a few new floaters, but they are the dark ones and most of the time they are well behaved and out of sight. Every now and then, though, something I do will stir them up. And that is the situation this weekend. I'm not sure what I did, so I can't even avoid doing it in future. But they got stirred up quite nicely.

So I am unsettled and worried. I try to see the floaters as they whiz around in my field of vision, to decide if there are any new ones in there. New floaters could mean trouble - further deterioration within the eye. I have a mental catalogue of the spots in that eye: large triangular black chunk; medium round black outline with clear middle; smallish black speck; medium irregular black piece with straggly edges. But there are a couple little ones I can't remember seeing before.  Or were they there and I only remember the large ones?

I'm in no hurry to have eye surgery again, although I would not hesitate if it became necessary. I just don't like the uncertainty hanging over me.

This is the kind of thing I'd miss seeing if I lost my vision. Don't worry, I don't dwell on it. But this seemed as good a time as any to post this photo. Getting these colours true in a photo made me pretty happy.

P. S. The weirdest thing about that gas bubble was that it caused upside down vision in the operated eye. I'm not science-y but I think it's the same principle as looking at yourself in a spoon. Convex, concave, blah, blah. Anyway, as the bubble re-absorbed and eventually disappeared, normal vision returned.



Steve Reed said...

Upside down vision?! That must have been surreal! I'm sorry you're having trouble with your floaters. I notice floaters every once in a while but mine are just dust or debris on the surface of the eye -- they never linger long. I don't seem to have any internal ones. (Yet!)

Joanne Noragon said...

I've had floaters all my life. A young ophthalmologist explained them as "left from being born," bits of tissue detached in the birthing process. That, face is, can be a struggle. She also warned me about them changing from benign to symptoms of trouble, which has not occurred.

jenny_o said...

It was kind of freaky, but I had my eyes closed a lot of the time anyway, resting :) Here's hoping you never have any bothersome bits!

jenny_o said...

Being born IS kind of hard work, not that I remember it, but still. Glad your spots have behaved themselves to date.

dinthebeast said...

All of my floaters seemed to go away after my cataract surgery last year. Man am I ever glad I had that surgery. I was so blind, it was like looking through waxed paper, and now I have 20/25 in my right eye and 20/40 in my left. I don't have to wear glasses any more, except for reading and using the computer, and I had been wearing them since seventh grade. The other day I was reading online and I thought I saw a fast moving, dark, floater in my right eye, but it turned out to be an ant on my reading glasses...
Here is a Sci Show episode about floaters that I liked and you might like also:

-Doug in Oakland

Elephant's Child said...

Sigh on the floaters front. I do hope they settle. Mine ramp up their intrusive behaviour when I am overtired or stressed. Could that be your culprit?
I have twice (very temporarily thankfully) lost my sight as a MS manifestation. Terrifying.
And both of my father's retinas detached on the same weekend. Yay for surgical advances. I am so glad yours could be corrected.

jenny_o said...

Cataract surgery is amazing, isn't it? I'm glad yours turned out well. Both my eyes were done a couple years prior to the retinal detachment. I still had to have corrective lenses because they couldn't fix 100% of my astigmatism, but it's a vast improvement and I don't mind glasses anyhow. That is pretty funny that you saw an ant and thought it was a floater! Funny, but also good, because it wasn't a floater after all :)

jenny_o said...

You may have solved the mystery, EC - I was very tired and very stressed on the weekend ... maybe that IS the problem. I'm feeling better today, and the problem has receded somewhat ... I do hope you're right.

I'm sorry you lost your eyesight no matter how temporary - I can only imagine how awful it must have been. Let's hope hard that it was a hiccup and never happens again.

Chicken said...

I've heard of floaters but I guess I didn't really know what they are. Now I'm afraid I have them. I always see things out of the corners of my eyes and also my vision is sometimes blurry for no reason, and then clears up. I guess it's time to visit my eye doctor again. The last time he said I was fine, but he was just checking my vision-I didn't ask him about floaters!

jenny_o said...

My floaters go everywhere: up, down, all around ... If you're worried, it's better to be safe than sorry, and get checked out - just like you plan to.

Geo. said...

My doc has mentioned floaters from iris pigment sloughing off into vitreous humor. The eyeball has a drainage port to take care of this problem naturally. However the port gets clogged eventually and must be cleared with a laser. That's all I know.

jenny_o said...

Interesting. I'll add that to my list of "eye things to worry about" :) Have you had this done, Geo.?