I have a “floater” inside my eyeball.
Turns out it’s something that happens to people as they get older. We all learn the hard way about the aches and pains that come with aging. I’ve even come to grips that years of loud rock-n-roll music has something to do with hearing loss.
Learning to accept that things just don’t operate the same in your sixties as they did in your thirties is par for the course. I can’t remember the last time I actually ran anywhere. Now, I just kind of walk faster. I notice that when crossing the street with cars approaching, I put up my hand like a crossing guard to signal “old guy walking as fast as he can,” like that’s going to protect me.
Sometimes going down the stairs is just as difficult as going up the stairs, but I’m OK with all of that. It’s part of the aging process and much better than the alternative if you know what I mean.
But “floaters?” Nobody warned me about them.
At first, I thought it was a fly passing too close, so I instinctively brushed it away with my hand. Then I thought I had walked into a spider’s web or had a hair straying into my field of vision. I didn’t really think twice about it. But after a day or two of brushing away imaginary things like a mental patient, I knew something was not right.
I kept seeing the same image: a small, black, half-circle out of my left eye. Now that I knew it was there, I was zeroing in on it all the time. I noticed it when I was reading or in a bright room. Whenever I move my eyeball, the little arc would follow.
Convinced it was an eyelash, I grabbed my wife’s vanity mirror, which magnifies things so even Mister Magoo could thread a needle but couldn’t see any obstruction. I flushed the eye with water, but the little critter was still there. My wife inspected it with a giant magnifying glass that would have made Sherlock Holmes proud, yet nothing.
Trying to remain calm while this thing was floating in my field of vision, I called my eye doctor, hoping for relief of any kind. After going through all the protocols, machinery and magnifying lenses, including looking behind my eye (still don’t know how they do that), she told me it was a floater inside my eyeball, not in front of it.
Relieved to find out I wasn’t psychotic, I innocently asked, “How do we get rid of it?”
Knowing I probably wasn’t going to like the answer, she grinned and said, “We can’t.”
Excuse me? You see, a floater is a small clump of gel floating in the sea of vitreous inside your eyeball, casting a shadow. “Your brain will get used to it eventually,” she happily informed me, “and it will eventually disappear.” However, she had no clear definition of “eventually.”
“Are we talking six hours, six days, six weeks, or six months?” I inquired, only to get a response of, “Any one of those.”
I’m telling you right now, six months of a floating half circle in my line of sight is going to drive me insane. I’m not sure I can last six days. Every waking moment, it’s going to be there. The only time I don’t see it is in the dark and when I close my eyes. What am I going to do, wear an eye patch all day and walk around like a pirate saying, “ahoy, matey?”
Apparently, this is a common phenomenon as I’ve spoken with several people who have assured me, they eventually got used to it, or it eventually went away. I guess I’m just going to have to deal with it like everyone else. Eventually.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.