Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cracked lenses...

Get to know your blogger... Can it be that modern science can do such wonderful things, but can't easily get rid of the distracting floaters and occasional flashing lights that linger around my eyeballs? How can a man enjoy the paper on a Sunday morning in the midst of all this shrinking vitreous? Let me explain...

"Floaters" occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, slowly shrinks. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. There is no simple cure, only the fantastically risky vitrectomy (aka: the horrific surgery Spalding Gray avoided in Gray's Anatomy). A vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel, along with its floating debris, from the eye. The vitreous is replaced with a salt solution. The operation can cause retinal detachment, retinal tears, and cataracts. Most eye surgeons are reluctant to recommend this surgery unless the floaters seriously interfere with vision.

But wait there's more. People who experience floaters are also susceptible to ocular migraines or simply "flashing lights." We lucky folk experience these as blinding flashes of light that appear as jagged lines or "heat waves" in both eyes, often lasting up to 20 minutes. These migraines are usually caused by a spasm of blood vessels in the brain. If a headache follows the flashes, it is called a migraine headache. However, jagged lines or "heat waves" can occur without a headache. In this case, the light flashes are called an ophthalmic migraine, or a migraine without a headache.

There you have it. A man of many visions.


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