Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fear of Noticing Floaters in the Eye: Update



One of the posts that gets a lot of response, even though it is from 2010, is Floaters in the Eye and OCD Vision. The post resonates with people who fear that the floaters will impede all enjoyment of vision. Part of my fear at first, in 1988, was that something was seriously wrong, but then after seeing an ophthalmologist, it became a fear of always noticing the floaters and having my life ruined by that, and yet now I don't notice them most of the time. 

I went to a museum this summer with a very bright white room, and it made me really notice my floaters. It was not pleasant, and I wanted to leave, but it didn't dog me after that. In the past, I would have kept trying to see if the the floaters were still there, ever increasing my brain's vigilance and anxiety. Because of all the ERP therapy in the past, I was able to let it go once I left the white room. Do I want to go back to that museum room? No, not really. Do I find it annoying that they advertised how fabulous the art looked in that room ~ yes!! But it didn't ruin my experience of the day, and that is real progress for me.

If you have been evaluated by an ophthalmologist, then I would next look to find an Exposure and Response Prevention therapist or check out the International OCD Foundation or read Jonathan Grayson's Freedom from OCD, to work on the obsessing about the floaters never going away.  You can work with an ERP therapist to find the most feared consequence of seeing the floaters in your eyes, and work on an exposure that deals with that, perhaps a script you listen to, or moving on with daily activities instead of stopping to focus on the floaters, and learning to habituate to the anxiety so it dissipates. 

I actually stopped noticing the floaters most of the time even before I went for treatment for other aspects of my health anxiety OCD.  If you contemplate your experience, you may remember symptoms that receded, even though at the time it seemed like they never would.  Sometimes it was a rotating worry from one thing to the next ~ ERP helps you get off the Merry-Go-Round.  Does hearing about other people's health issues still make me anxious? Yes.  I had a talk with someone last week which turned into her describing her retinal detachment, and I could feel an upsurge of anxiety, but again, I could let it go because I will never have 100% reassurance that nothing bad will happen, and yet I can still live my life.  

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