I was sitting at the computer a few weeks ago tweaking an article when I thought I saw a little black thousand-legger scurry off the left side of my desk.
No, there it was again. I looked away, and the fuzzy bug came back. Gone, back, gone, back.
Turns out something was levitating in my eye that looked like piece of black string in the shape of a “Cambria” 26-point font “C.”
There were some squiggles below the “C” but those went away in a couple days.
I named the string-thing “Squiggy.”
My husband and I were heading out to Catalina Island for New Year’s Eve, but being the alarmist I hope I’m not, I thought I’d dash off a note to my primary care physician. As we were boarding the Express, I got a call from the on-duty Kaiser nurse who told me to hightail it to Urgent Care.
Urgent Care at the Catalina hospital consisted of one Dr. Smart on call, a few administrative employees and a nurse.
After we rounded up the doctor—who looked as if he just graduated from high school—he thoroughly and systematically went through the list of things to look for in macular degeneration or a detached retina.
I was a bit wary when he got out his iPhone and used its light beam to look into my eye. He didn’t have the equipment to scout out the “C” but assured me there was nothing urgent and advised me to see an ophthalmologist when I got home.
A few days later, the ophthalmologist summary was: “left posterior vitreous detachment,” which sounds more horrible than it is.
I drew a picture of Squiggy for Dr. Yang-Fu Tong who said it was a text book example of a floater with no retinal tear which could be sight threatening. He could actually see that third letter of the alphabet with his high performance equipment teasing the inside my eyeball.
According to information found on the Mayo Clinic website “eye floaters look like black or gray specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look directly at them.”
The doc assured me it’s a normal process of aging that causes the vitreous gel to pull away from the retina in places.
Vitreous gel is a jelly-like substance inside the eye that helps the eyeball maintain its round shape. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous can clump and project tiny shadows on the retina, which are simply called floaters.
My floater's ever presence is annoying.
And it’s embarrassing getting caught trying to make Squiggy do tricks when idleness attacks. I can rotate the “C” in a complete circle, or make it swim away like a California squid. But doing so makes me look like Popeye the Sailor and downright ridiculous when caught in the act.
As I found out, practically everyone my age, and even some younger are annoyed from time to time with Squiggys of their own. Plus, I’m glad it wasn’t just my over-active imagination that made me contact the doctor in askance.
Still, since there is no easy way to make floaters go away, I won’t be sad to see my non friend dissipate.
Perhaps left eye cataract surgery staring down the pike at me—another rite of passage—might do the trick of offing Squiggy, no guilt intended.