Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Vitreous Humor (not)

What is happening here?

     A late birthday gift, perhaps?

     Another reminder that the passage of time brings the unpredictable?

     An  experience to tuck away in the archives of "bad stuff that can happen" when you're just trying to age gracefully?

Suddenly there were painless flashes of black darts in my left eye, lasting milliseconds, recurrent with every step. Step; flash; step; flash; step; flash. Off and on for hours, then gone for awhile, then back again.

What in the world?

I was kind of freaked out but since the vision was still OK and there was no pain, I let it go, hoping all the while that the symptoms would take a hike. Not so. This was Tuesday.

Wednesday I squeezed into my eye doc's overly burdened schedule at the end of his day. Turns out I have a predictable condition of ocular aging; emphasis on aging. Vitreous detachment. Not to be confused with the more serious phenomenon of retinal detachment, this separation of the gel-like substance of the inner eye (vitreous) from the retina is exceedingly common and almost always benign. The incidence increases after age 50 and may affect one or both eyes. By age 80, almost all eyes are affected. Many never notice any symptoms; others experience what I had.

All this was news to me. Nephrologists apparently know little about the aging eye beyond the development of cataracts and far sightedness. Sigh. What else should we be expecting????

After 48 hours, the flashes are over and I'm left with some annoying floaters in my eye. If this is the worst of what I'll experience, I'm relieved.  One more appointment with a retinal specialist armed with powerful dilating drops to check out the peripheral aspects of the retina for any tears or holes and I should be finished.

Seems the major complication of the typically benign vitreous detachment is a vigorous tug on the retina which then decides to pull loose. Not good. That Mom had a detached retina at exactly this time in her life back in the early 1970's puts me at a slightly higher risk. She had impaired vision in the affected eye for the rest of her life; maybe hers all started with a detached vitreous. We'll never know.

So, although benign for the most part, the darker side lurks and I'll be sure to get this checked out.
Aging eyes. This business is getting close to the brain and in my estimation, too close for comfort.  LOL.


  1. Hope it turns out to be something easily corrected. I too am having vision glitches - floaters in my vision. A year after a new prescription, one eye is suddenly blurred. I'm getting it checked out in Oct. when my insurance says I can.

  2. Glad it was not more serious, Kate. I had a similar experience a few years ago and was glad it didn't last long. My father had serious eye problems beginning in his 30s and I am glad to have made it this far without those problems. Hope everything will be okay.


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