alt=an older woman watches as bugs buzz around her.

The Problems that Bug Us

My tinnitus - the ringing in my ears - is crickets. Not the kind of “crickets” younger people refer to when there is nothing but silence in response to some comment. My tinnitus sounds like real crickets. I have a summer night’s chorus to listen to whenever I choose...and sometimes when I don’t choose!

My “crickets” have come into my head to accompany my “mosquito larva” floater in my right eye. It is a mass with a tail that looks very much like what I saw in pond water through the microscope in high school.

Floater appeared after an eyeshot

This buggy duo was joined for a while by a “gnat” in my left eye. That floater appeared after an eyeshot that I had for the study. I was told it was probably a little air bubble and would dissipate or sink to the bottom of my eye.

Temporary as it may be, in the short term it has been annoying. I have found myself batting away the “gnat” that I see flying around my face. But on the positive side, it did give me the idea of writing about one more eye problem that “bugs” us: floaters.

Clumps of vitreous gel

Floaters are one more, “fun” thing that comes with age. The vitreous gel that gives our eyes shape starts to separate and clump. These clumps - floaters - cast shadows on your retinas and you see them as things flying through your field of vision.

Flashes with floaters

Floaters don’t generally arrive in flocks. If they do, you may have a serious problem. If you suddenly notice a whole flock of floaters, call your eye specialist immediately. This is especially if you are also seeing flashes. The floater plus flashes combination can be signaling a detached retina.

Floaters are generally not harmful

Leaving that scary thought, floaters are not usually a sign of a detached retina. As stated, floaters are generally associated with aging. Infections in the eye and bleeds - also potentially serious concerns - can also cause floaters, but eye medications and procedures can also be culprits. According to Mayo Clinic in the Mayo Clinic Minute: "What are Eye Floaters?", air bubbles from intravitreal injections can also appear as floaters.

There are really no easy ways of getting rid of floaters. WebMD assures us they are generally benign and - with the exception of being annoying - do no real harm. As I said, the few days after I notice my new, “gnat” floater I was swatting at it and trying to get it to shoo quite a bit. Potentially embarrassing but not necessarily harmful.

Vitrectomy surgery is an option

If you are experiencing a large number of floaters and they are obscuring your vision, speak with your eye specialist. If he deems it appropriate, they can do a vitrectomy. A vitrectomy is a surgery in which they suck out the vitreous gel and replace it. When the original gel goes, so do floaters. Remember, however, a vitrectomy is an invasive procedure and can bring about other concerns.

Try to wait it out

If you only have a few floaters, try waiting a bit. Very often, floaters will settle to the bottom of your eye. There they will be out of your field of vision and they should not bother you as much. I generally only see my “mosquito larva” after I have been jumping around or doing inversions in yoga.

In general, floaters can be annoying but are not that big a deal. Try not to let them “bug” you too much.

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