Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous humor) inside your eyes becomes more liquid. When this happens, microscopic fibers within the vitreous humor tend to clump together and can cast tiny shadows on your retina, which you may see as eye floaters.Sudden appearance of a flock of these can be a sign of retinal detachment, and my OCD latched onto this. It was already a hotspot, because a friend of mine actually had a detachment. I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, after much angst because of my fear of making phone calls, and my perfectionistic self-loathing that somehow I should be able to diagnose myself perfectly before actually seeing a doctor.
The doctor was nice, and patiently explained that my retinas looked fine, and I had floaters, and that they weren't dangerous and if I rapidly flicked my eyelid, sometimes I might be able to shift the floater out of my field of vision if it was bugging me. I was convinced I would never see anything else but my floaters, that I was cursed, that my vision was ruined. I kept checking to see if I could still see the squiggles, and that of course made me more aware of them. I remember reading that eventually your brain adjusts and ignores the floaters, if you give it a chance. In spite of my OCD, I did finally get used to them.
Then in 1996, I had a job interview I was very anxious about, and suddenly a new squiggle floated by. At least I thought it was new, and I spent a lot of time compulsively trying to remember if I'd seen it before and wondering if I should see an ophthalmologist. Even worse was my critical self-analysis, trying to figure out if the stress was making me see the floater, and why the hell did I have to notice it right then, and what was wrong with me that I fixated on this, and if only I stopped fixating on it, it would go away. Was it there all the time? Was I hallucinating? Why was my memory so bad? An on and on.
Simmering with self-hatred, I went to my job interview, and once that stress lifted, I did indeed stop fixating on the spot as much, which made me hate myself even more. I felt defective in my hypersensitivity to stress and to body symptoms and sensations. I knew I had anxiety, but I didn't know it was OCD, and I had a lifetime of believing that it was all due to my personal flaws, my inadequacies. But even people without OCD find a first appearance of floaters freaky, and there's nothing inappropriate about having your eyes checked. The key is what happens after you get checked--if the diagnosis is a harmless floater, but it consumes your attention with ceasing, treatment for OCD could help.
My last entanglement with eye symptoms occurred in 2006, when I started seeing a dark spot float by when I woke up first thing in the morning. It didn't look like my other floaters, and I panicked. I went to the ophthalmologist who said I had fabulous retinas, and said that some visual phenomena cannot be explained. Just what someone with an OCD fear of uncertainty wants to hear! Fortunately, I started with an OCD specialist, doing Exposure and Response Prevention therapy a few months later.
Telephone Phobia: Fear of Making Phone Calls