It’s Just a Floater in the Vitreous Gel

So I’m working on my computer this past Saturday morning when I notice that there is, what appears to be, an aerial view of a Pacific atoll hovering in front of the screen. After blinking my eyes a couple of times, I discover that the atoll is still there. So I begin to investigate further.

I closed one eye and then the other and discovered that the anomaly was visible only when I was using my right eye. Aha! There must be a smudge or foreign object on my contact lens. A quick cleaning of the offending lens ensued, but much to my surprise, the atoll remained in place.

After popping the lens out of my right eye again, I discovered that the source of the problem was not external to my eye, but internal to it. I realized that I had a large circular “floater” in my eye. Now I’ve had floaters in my eyes for most of my life, in fact most people have them, but I’d never seen one this large nor one that was as prominent in my field of vision.

About this time, I made a second observation that really began to concern me. In the process of removing and replacing my contacts, I’d noticed that my eye movements were generating flashes of light and that I could see these flashes when my eyes were open, as well as when they were closed.

This, I realized, might not be such a good thing.

Immediately, I did what any thinking person would do under the circumstances; I Googled “Circular Floater in Eye”. It’ll come as no surprise that there is a wealth of information (some of it actually pretty good) to be had out there in cyberspace on the subject of eye floaters.

I had already started to wonder if I might be experiencing the initial stages of a detached retina. The information I read online indicated that while that might be the case, there was also the possibility that the source of my hovering Pacific atoll and flashing lights might be nothing more that a strand of vitreous gel pulling on the retina of my right eye.

When my condition did not change for the better over the remainder of the weekend, I made an appointment with a local ophthalmologist.

Upon arriving for my appointment at 6:30 a.m. (yes, 6:30 a.m., but that’s another story), the nurse immediately dilated both of my eyes with heavy duty, triple octane dilating fluid. I still had Bambi Eyes when I called it a day and went to bed later that night.

The doctor then came into the examination room. After shaking my hand, he asked, “How old are you?” “60“, I replied. He paused then gave an insightful nod of his head worthy of Sherlock Holmes after the final clue of his current mystery had fallen into place.

The good doctor then attached what looked and felt like the eye-piece from Galileo’s astronomical telescope to my right eye. After several repetitions of moving my eye up, down, right, and left while he illuminated the inside of my eye with a light source brighter than the Sun; the doctor announced that there was no evidence of retinal detachment or tearing. Fantastic, best news I’d received all day! Of course, it was still not yet 7:00 a.m.

He went on to explain that at “my age“, the vitreous gel inside of our eyes begins to shrink and that strands of the material can pull on the retina causing the perception of flashing light; confirming my own Google based diagnosis.

These strands can also be perceived to be Kwajalein and other obscure Pacific atolls. He told me that both the floater and the flashing lights would probably dissipate on their own within a few weeks!

It’s probably also an “age” related thing that as I was leaving the doctor’s office, I couldn’t seem to stop humming the phrase, “It’s Just a Floater in the Vitreous Gel . . . . ” to the tune of the old Moody Blues hit, “I’m Just a Singer (in a rock and roll band) . . . . .

Life is good.


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