Thursday, March 03, 2005

The world through my eyes

Like many people, I have quite a few floaters swimming about in my eyes. I think I have more than most people, and I have had them all my life. Mostly they look like small, well-defined spots or chains that resemble images of cells seen through a microscope. Some of the longer "chains" of floaters appear to have become knotted, forming larger, darker regions. As the floaters are actually bouncing around the liquid in my eyes, different floaters will move in different directions at different speeds.

Floaters will generally move with the movement of my eyes with a slight lag; if I quickly glance from left to right and then left again, a small gaggle of floaters will suddenly race from left to right across my field of vision, skid to a halt as they seem to realize that they have been faked out by the quick reversal of my eye movement, and then reverse course themselves. If I then hold my gaze steady, the floaters will sail past the center of my view, gradually slow down, and then resume their semi-random movements in response to the semi-random movements of my eyes.

Some of my friends have never experienced floaters for themselves, and I haven't found any really good illustrations online. So, with the aid of some heavily modified microphotographs of spirogyra and other microorganisms, I have come up with a rough simulation.

Here is a shot of the alley that runs behind the Bowl-O-Rama/Skate-A-Rama complex. (These are apparently the preferred spellings, based on the existing sign for the bowling alley and a single online reference to a concert at the skating rink.) From this angle the building appears undamaged. This is the main entrance to the bowling alley side. The bridge over the alley in the distance is actually a second entrance to the bowling alley from a small parking lot on the next street up. (Literally up; the next street is a good 10 feet or so above the alley.) I don't know if the bridge is still used, but I do know that many pigeons roost there.

Skatarama (alley view) Posted by Hello

Here is a simulation of the same image as seen through my eyes. As in real life, the floaters are most easily seen against the sky and the blank wall.

Skatarama with floaters Posted by Hello

There is no surgical cure for floaters, although my optometrist once told me about a possible bleaching process. If you've never experienced them, count yourself lucky. If you are afflicted by them, know that you are not alone.

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