about three years ago i was reviewing a tenure file and i noticed a funny speck on my right eye. as i moved my head, it would float across my field of vision like a cheap sci-fi spaceship. i tried washing, rubbing, blinking, squinting, and drowning my eye in visine, but the little spaceship would just float on.
after calling a nurse helpline and googling around a bit, i learned i had "floaters" or asteroid hyalosis (that's where i've seen 'em -- in the old arcade game asteroids). here are a few lines from my favorite serious medical definition:
asteroid hyalosis is a common degenerative process in which fatty calcium globules collect within the vitreous humor. These opacities move along with the vitreous humor when the eye moves.
is that the coolest collection of words and phrases? i'm definitely going to work "fatty calcium globules," opacities, and vitreous humor into an article at some point. it was especially helpful to learn this fun fact from the wikipedia entry:
it is not, however, only elderly people who suffer from floaters; they can certainly become a problem to younger people, especially if they are myopic.
myopic? who me? or am i elderly? and what's all this about suffering? it can be a little annoying to see the battlestar globulica gliding across everything one reads, but it sure ain't suffering.
floaters are really no big deal. they either go away after awhile or floatees (i prefer the term to "sufferers") simply stop noticing them. my friend ron aminzade said his disappeared after he "started doing yoga and stopped being chair." uh-oh. i'm just starting the chair thing and i'm way too flexibility-impaired to attempt yoga. other academic friends link floaters to stress, but i can only find anecdotal evidence on this point.
for now, the floaters are simply a constant uninvited companion. they don't really bug me, but i wish they'd make themselves useful and take notes on my reading or something.
note: the image above is a 2004 photo by elliott linwood. you can order it here.