Floaters? Who Needs Em?


One day when I was learning to fly, my flight instructor asked me what the pattern altitude was for an airport at which we were preparing to land. In order to answer I had to locate the airport in my Jeppesen Pilot Manual. That was easy, it was in big, bold print and easy to find. Next I had to locate the runway elevation and then add 400 feet. I hemmed and hawed for what seemed a lifetime and sheepishly looked over to my intrepid instructor, Gary Jestice and said, “Print’s too small”. “That’s it, no more flying until you get glasses”, He harumphed with authority. So I started wearing glasses when I was 40 and lost at 6500 feet.

The glasses got thicker and thicker as time went on, when along came cateract surgery. I first registered my desire to have cateract surgery when I was about 67 or so. Dr. Janet, my supersweet Optometrist, who I taught to make fresh pasta, told me she didn’t like to recommend cateract surgery until age 75 or more. Finally the day arrived and 20-20 returned. Everything went fine until I started to develop an irritating haze. No problem, Zap, Zap with another laser and it was gone, or so I thought.

Two years of marvelous, clear, un-squinting vision ensued. One morning I woke up and there were two worms swimming in my right eyeball. “Floaters? What the hell is a floater?”. I asked. That happens when your eyeball tears away from your retina. Dr. Janet and I looked at the orange eyeball photos she began to amass on her computer, and sure enough, there they were, floaters. I asked a million questions, fearing some worsening condition and the upshot was, “Live with them, the cure is worse than the condition.”

Living with a floater is easier said than done. For the first week I would swear that something was skulking in my peripheral vision so I constantly jerked my head to see what is was, …… nothing. When the one in my left eye occured, I was sure there was a small bug crawling across the arm-rest of my Lazy Boy, and I constantly looked down, but he scooted off before I could swat him.

Eventually your brain says, “These aren’t worth looking at.”, and they drift off out of your field of vision. I imagine that the drifting off will continue, but I wonder what it will be like when the area they drift to gets filled up with so many of them that they have nowhere else to go but back into your field of vision. I’ll worry about that when it happens, I suppose.