A glimpse of panic

Well, today was pretty much the most terrifying day of my life. I noticed a weird vision defect a few days ago. At first I thought there was a flaw in the lens of my glasses, but after a while I realized I was seeing it even when I wasn’t wearing them — a sort of shadowy streak running about halfway across the line of sight for my dominant eye. I didn’t think too much of it until I woke up the next day and it was still there. So, I began to research symptoms and talk to people (including doctors) about it, and the universal conclusion seemed to be pointing to the idea that I had somehow torn my retina and was rapidly working my way toward a detached retina and blindness in my good eye.

I reached out to an ophthalmologist today and set up an afternoon emergency appointment, and the phone consultation only served to reinforce the notion that I was in for some expensive and uncomfortable surgery at best, a complete lack of vision at worst. Thankfully, the doctor determined that my retina is perfectly fine and that I simply have a very large and very unusual floater — a piece of fiber that’s dislodged from the tissue of my eye and become suspended in the vitreous fluid, right between my pupil and optical nerve. It’s harmless, but it’s permanent. I’m going to have a distracting, intrusive, uncomfortable vision defect for the rest of my life.


Also, the dilating drops made me look stoned.

Anyway, the uncertainty had me more anxious than I can remember ever feeling about anything. My whole life revolves around my vision — how could I make a living if I can’t see to consume media and write about it? I had this nauseating future sight of my entire existence crumbling.

I also had this profound feeling of anger at the thought of losing my vision and being denied the opportunity to get any further into Game Boy World, of all things.

I’m not thrilled about the speck in my eye — or rather, as my mother joked, more of a biblical log. It makes looking at screens a lot more difficult than it was just a couple of days ago, and I constantly have the sensation of having been dazzled by a bright light. I’ll take it, though. Certainly beats the alternative I’d been bracing for. I’ve never been so happy to hear someone say, “Your vision is going to be mildly impaired for the rest of your life” before.

14 thoughts on “A glimpse of panic

  1. I’m glad that you’re doing alright and that it’s nothing dangerous. No body part is quite as tied to our lizard brain as our eyes in terms of causing immense panic and horror.

  2. I’m relieved to read it wasn’t the worst case scenario. I think most, if not all, of your readers can relate to the fear you felt.

  3. Thats a shame Jeremy, But thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
    As someone who got parasitic arthritis at a young age, I understand that feeling of dread that for the rest of your life you have lost your ability to do what you do.
    I have times when I can’t use my wrists or can’t stand up, It stops me from working and is something outside of my control.
    You start to despair because what can you then do? I’d be the same about losing my sight.
    I hope it doesn’t become to prevalent in your vision.

  4. Any threat to your vision is terrifying! I’ve got the floaters too but mine move (a lot) so I’m always seeing them. If yours is stable your brain might adjust and it will become less noticeable over time. Best wishes either way!

  5. Glad it was harmless, sorry about the floater.

    I’ve got a few of those in one of my eyes due to an unfortunate incident with one of the lasers I work with a couple years back. I take them and the tiny blind spot that came with them as a warning to be better about wearing my safety glasses.

    I’ve read you can get the fluid drained and replaced and it can help, but that cure sounds quite a bit worse than the disease to me.

  6. If you do ever lose your vision, you can move your game writing focus from chronicling the Game Boy catalog to in-depth explorations of “sound novels.” You can dip your toe in the water with Chunsoft’s “Otogiriso” and “Banshee’s Last Cry” before diving in head-first with WARP’s “Real Sound: Kaze no Regret.” Just think of the possibilities!

    (All kidding aside, sorry about the floater, but glad that it’s nothing more serious.)

  7. I’ve always pondered about which would be worse, losing my sight or my vision. I’m super into music so I almost think I’d rather lose my sight… Anyway glad things turned out OK. I’m sure you’ll adjust to the floater in time, and will barely notice it!

  8. I suppose this is a moment to give thanks for a gift you’d come to take for granted and forgotten could be taken away at any moment. Isn’t it fascinating how gratitude works–that you’ll gratefully accept worse vision when you realize that no one owed you vision in the first place?

  9. I got a whole bunch of floaters, probably 6 or 7 years ago now, which coincided with grainier vision in the dark and an increased sensitivity to light. It doesn’t really affect me and it’s never worsened, and now my brain pretty much ignores all of it. It may take a while to get used to, but eventually you’ll forget about it in your day-to-day.

  10. My eye doctor told me that the large number of floaters I have (I dunno, 12 or so? They’re very small) means that when the vitreous humour liquefies and collapses later I might get detached retinas.

    I was like “wait, COLLAPSES?!”

    so yeah, funny story, your vitreous humour falls apart after 60 and we keep being able to use our eyes regardless. I mean, unless it takes our retinas with it. Which has a (less than 5%) chance of happening if you’re nearsighted and have floaters.

    The moral of the story is to watch out for sudden floaters and rainbow hallucinations, apparently.

  11. Man, I felt for you reading this. I’m glad it turned out it was just a crappy situation instead of a horrible one. :(

  12. I’m starting to loose vision in my right eye. I can still see, but its fuzzy out of it. I can’t read from it at all, unless it’s comically large font. I’d go get it tested, but I really can’t afford it right now. Just worried that by not getting it looked at it’s making it worse.

    Really sorry to read that you’re vision is marred, I can understand how scary that idea is!

  13. With any luck your floater will become less visible the longer you have it. I have had some which seemed to have disappeared over the last few years. Maybe they are still there, but they aren’t bothering me. I have to make an effort to see them at this point. So glad it is just a floater and nothing more serious. Dang son, you really do looked stoned.

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