Friday, March 11, 2005

Fluttering Flies of a Spotless Sight!

I am not crazy! And in all likelihood I am not going blind either. Its a relief because I had seriously begun to consider going to an eye-specialist and/or a mental hospital regarding what I have been calling "transparent patterns in front of my eyes" since my childhood. Well, actually I haven't been calling them anything at all. Not very frequently anyway. I don't remember talking to many people about this thing even though I have always seen these patterns in front of my eyes and must've spent a million hours following them. One reason was that I always assumed that it must happen with everyone. The other was that I was probably afraid that if it doesn't happen with everyone then I might sound pretty crazy trying to explain what I was seeing. No, actually it was just the former, not latter. :) Because I never realized how difficult it would be to try to make the other person understand what I was seeing if he/she has never seen them. I remember telling about them to some friend of mine at IIT. That was probably the first time I told about them to someone and even though I don't remember his reaction exactly, I know that he was finding it difficult to understand.

Khair, this thing came up again a few days ago when me and NS were sitting at home doing nothing at all. So, we started talking about random things and suddenly one of the patterns caught my eye. So, I ended up asking him if he also sees similar patterns. He doesn't. Whats more, he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. At first he thought I was just talking about the retinal image of anything that you see, which takes some time to vanish and might appear as a transparent "ghost" image when you close your eyes. Trouble is, I can see these patterns all the time. No need to close your eyes or go to a dark room. Also, the patterns move around with the eyeball making them VERRY difficult to settle down in one place. The clincher argument differentiating these patterns from any retinal image was that the patterns are not "rigid" i.e. they move relative to each other as well!! This got me thinking. Is this thing bad? Should I worry about it at all? At this point I knew two people who didn't have a clue what I was talking about and none who did. So, I decided to try someone else. Someone else called Rashmi Tyagi urf Indu urf my dear sis. Same result. So, I got the answer. I SHOULD worry about this. Three out of three is statistically significant enough.

Yet, it made sense to put Google on work at the problem before spending my not-so-hard-earned dollars on consulting someone who might end up laughing and saying, "That happens with 99.99999% people. You probably found the only three people in the whole world who don't see them." Turns out that this is a not-too-uncommon condition called muscae volantes (which is Latin for "fluttering flies", hence the title :) ), or more commonly (and VERY appropriately), Floaters. The corresponding article on wikipedia actually described it extremely well. Like it says, "The temptation to try to look directly at them is almost irresistable. However, attempts to shift the gaze toward them are frustrated, because the floaters follow the motion of the eye, and remain to the side of the direction of gaze." That is SO true!! :)

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