Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Sign of Aging

     It started about two weeks ago. B and I were out walking the dog at dusk. We were taking our usual route down our street, but for some reason a fly, or some other kind of bug, would not leave me alone. It was darting in and out of my eyesight, around my head. I waved my arms around; but that didn't make the bug go away. Finally I just walked ahead and ducked into the house.

     The same thing happened the next evening. I couldn't understand my sudden attraction to whatever insect was singling me out for attack in front of my own house.

     A couple of days later I was reading in my office chair, and I happened to look up at the ceiling. I saw a couple of black dots. But they didn't seem to be on the ceiling. They seemed to be in my eye. Did I have something in my eye?

     I rubbed my eye, and when that didn't do anything, I took a shower and tried to wash out my eyes. I went back downstairs and looked up at the ceiling. The black spots were still there, mostly in my right eye.

     Finally, I mentioned the spots to B. By the way, I call B Bridge, short for Bridget. Might as well give her name after all this time. Anyway, I told her about the bug that was bothering me when we walked the dog -- she recalled the incidents with some amusement -- and then I described the black spots when I looked at the ceiling. And now, I said, I could see them moving around with my eye. They were in my right eye.

     "Oh, yeah," she acknowledged. "They're floaters."

     "What the hell are floaters?" I asked. This was the first I'd heard of them.

     "It happens when you get older. I've had them a couple of times. They're not serious, and they usually just go away."

     "So how do you know about them? You're younger than I am."

     "Well, my eyes weren't so great to begin with."

     "So you start getting older, and suddenly you get black things rolling around in your eyes?"

     "It has something to do with the fluid behind your eyeball. It dries up, and you see spots."

     So, being the semi-hypochondriac that I am, I googled floaters. WebMD told me that eye floaters are small pieces of protein that appear as spots in your field of vision. As you age the back of your eye shrinks and small bits of protein shred off from the retina. They are particularly noticeable when you look at something bright . . . such as a white ceiling.

     Most of the time floaters are harmless, and according to WebMD, as well as Bridge, most of the  time they do not interfere with your field of vision. However, in some cases, they can signal a retinal tear or retinal detachment which are serious eye disorders. Apparently, you don't have to worry unless the floaters become very dense, or you experience some loss of vision, or you get sudden flashes of light on the edges of your eye.

     So the next night we went out to walk the dog. I got to the end of the driveway, when I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my right eye. And then another one a few minutes later. That was enough for me. The next morning I made an appointment with an opthamologist at our medical group.

     A few days later I was in his office, with drops in my eyes, lying back in a chair as he shined a  spotlight bright enough to land an airplane into my eyes. Look up; look down. To the right, to the left. Back to the right.

     The doctor seemed unimpressed with my eyes, even slightly annoyed that I had troubled him with my so-called problem. Which is a good thing, in my book.

     I have floaters. No sign of retinal detachment. I should go back to him if the floaters get significantly worse, or I begin to lose vision. But otherwise, I'm fine. The doctor says they should go away once my fluid dries up and the bits of protein get absorbed into my body. But he told me to make an appointment in one month. He wants to check me again, just to make sure.

     And so I've got these black lacy-type things floating around in my right eye. A few flashes of light when I go out in the dark at night. But, they tell me, everything is normal. Just something that comes with getting older. Isn't aging fun?!?

14 comments:

DJan said...

I have had floaters before, but since I started taking all these vitamins for my AMD, they went away and for now I am free of them. It's been years now, but I remember how annoying they can be. :-)

christina neumann said...

I had the exact same thing. And the hypochondriac that I am, off I went to the eye dr. He said the same thing, they'll go away, and watch out for flashes of light thing. BTW, thanks for the Medicare comment. I know there's a penalty if he doesn't sign up. So I know we do that. I'll call and find out more. Cheers!!!

Florence said...

Floaters here too! I'm so used to them that I really don't notice them any more. As Rosannadanna wisely stated, "It's always something..."

rosaria williams said...

Mention the flashes of light to your GP as they may be signs of other stuff. Unless with were around older folks, we have no idea of what to look out for, what is "normal", and what is a precursor. Meds at our age do strange things as well; again, your GP needs to know.

Olga Hebert said...

I had a very similar "bug" experience some years ago. I was told that they don't go away, you just adjust and don't notice them. In any case I still notice them if I am looking at the ceiling when I wake up or if I get very tired. I went to see a retinologist in FL when I experienced the flashes and was that ever a scary glimpse into the future!

Linda Myers said...

Yep. Me, too. I had a scary experience a few years ago when all of a sudden - like within seconds - my vision changed. Opthalmologist said I'd had vitreous detachment, common in "older people". Nothing to be concerned about. Two years later I had one in my other eye. Opthalmologist said the same thing. These getting older things are the pits!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you've reached this age without having experienced floaters, before. In my family, we notice them at about age 40. Good for you!!
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Juhli said...

Hmmm - you just made me realize that I hadn't noticed any floaters since I had cataract surgery. Now I'll have to do some research and see if the implanted lenses make a difference in the likelihood of having them. Seriously, as signs of aging go they are something that is aggravating but not a big deal for most people. Glad yours were just that.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Floaters, dry eyes, cataracts, what next.

Brittle bones? I had my physical last week, and the doc said my bone density was stellar, i.e. I have 121% of the bone mass of a 25-year old. Nevertheless, I broke my toe this wee by simply walking barefoot in my bedroom. Didn't hit anything, just heard it snap when I took a step. Go figure!

Jane said...

Yeah, aging sucks and I will cut you if you tell me "consider the alternative"

Stephen said...

About two years ago a bunch of these happen at once in my left eye. This could of been a retina detachment. I had it checked out and no it was not. I still have floaters but most of the time I cannot see them. It is scary though the first time they appear in larger numbers.

Snowbrush said...

When I had your experience it was a retinal tear, and I was told that the other eye was likely to follow, but so far it hasn’t (the first tear being two years ago).

Seriously, if I had a doctor who seemed annoyed that I was enabling him to make booboos of by caring for my eyes because I wanted to avoid possible blindness, I would most certainly find another doctor, the usual problem—with men especially—being that they don’t go in soon enough for their sight to be saved.

I remember floaters from my childhood (I thought they were fun), but they do become more prominent with age.

catladymarsha said...

I had floaters and flashers for several years. However, when I had my tear my ophthalmologist was unable to see it and if I hadn't gotten a referral to my retinal guy I might have had serious complications. He lasered it and all is well. If you have any other symptoms insist on a referral to a retinal specialist.

Anonymous said...

I have had floaters in my eyes for years. Have read that they get better with age as the floaters settle to the bottom of the eye. But mine have never gotten any better....more floaters if anything. I have had cataract surgery but didn't have any difference with the floaters. But all in all, floaters are better than the constant ringing in my ears 24/7. If they only had a solution for that. Like my mother always said, "getting old ain't for sissies".