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Monday, June 6, 2016

A Science Lesson, or Things They Don't Tell You Will Happen As You Get Older

There are age-related weird things that people don't tell you about. Here is one: 

Sometime between the age of forty and seventy, it is likely that the vitreous jelly of your eye will pull away from the peanut butter of your retina and float freely. The usual age is between fifty and sixty, but if you're highly myopic (like moi) you get to have a higher risk of hitting around forty. 

Before the jelly separates from the peanut-butter retina, it first de-jellifies. This means that pockets of liquid appear, much like happens to the jelly in your fridge. It's these pockets, which take up less space and pull on the retina, thus allowing the jelly to detach and float like a jelly-fish, sting like a--jelly-fish. (Well, okay, vitreous jelly doesn't usually sing. 

The only warning you might get that your vitreous and your retina are about to part ways are: you'll see a bunch more floaters--those tiny dots that dance with you wherever you look. You might see a lot of them suddenly. You might also see flashing lights--this is caused by the jelly pulling on the nerves of your retina. 

If you have these symptoms, you might be perfectly fine, as your jelly might be floating around happily with no repercussions to your retina. 

However, your vitreous, unwilling to part with its beloved retina, might have yanked parts of it free as well. This is why, when you have these symptoms, you must hie thee to a vision specialist this very minute second. With a laser, that retina's lifted edges can be literally heat-fused back onto the back of your eye. 

Without treatment, or if that retina pulls away completely, bye bye vision.

So--if you have these symptoms, the scientifically recommended thing to do is: Panic! Freak out! Make your husband stay home from work to take you to the doctor. Wake frequently in the night wondering if you will wind up blind, or having to permanently view the world through what appears to be a contact smeared with mascara. Wonder which is worse. Try to focus on your breath, and calm your mind, because you're getting older faster than you realized and you'd better figure out a way to take your husband and children--even your kid with special needs--into Afghanistan with you, because you've suddenly realized that you should have become a clown who uses theater to teach mine-safety to children in remote, war-torn corners of the world like the Bukhan province--(If you don't know where that is, either do a Sporcle geometry quiz or read my last post. )

Realize you're supposed to be watching your breathing. Wonder what happened to the boldness that had you wearing a yellow shirt, bright green shorts, and purple socks when you were nineteen, simply because you liked bright colors together. Try to figure out if you have anything bright green, yellow and purple in your wardrobe. Wonder when you can next visit the thrift store on two dollars Tuesdays. 

Remember you're supposed to be watching your breathing. Fall asleep. You think. 

Find out your eyes are okay, but have spent so much adrenaline that for the rest of the day, you are exhausted, grumpy and doing a very good Mean Mom clown act of your own. Wonder if that whirligig ride at the kiddy fair-ground--the one that always terrifies you because your childhood friend was killed on such a ride, but only after you had moved away--if that whirligig ride might serve to help the irritating mascara milky way that is currently blocking good parts of the vision of your dominant eye. 

Comfort your children about their various worries, yet somehow leave the pizza you bought to feed them at the grocery store. (Fortunately you never paid for it.) 

Spend time you could be cleaning writing a blog post about your eye while your youngest asks you to please make her a baby sister. Please, please, please, because she really, really wants one. 

Gulp. Hit Save.  Publish. 

Below, the beauties of vitreous jelly. 

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