A short pattern to manage visual floaters
This article was written at the request of Dr. Kevin Hogan, and can be found on page 257 of the book “Through the Open Door, Secrets of Self Hypnosis” by Kevin Hogan and Mary Lee LeBay.
Very common among we 40-somethings, visual floaters are those annoying dark spots that occasionally appear to swim into one's field of vision. At their most benign, they are merely the result of the normal aging process of our eyes. For many years, these have come and gone from my visual field, usually lasting a few days to weeks, and then vanishing. However, during the fall of 1998, one particularly annoying spot appeared, permanently fixed at the center of the visual field of my right eye. This very large dark spot occasionally interfered with my ability to focus - and occasionally even caused a degree of pain.
Several trips to the ophthalmologist established that there was no actual problem with my eyes - no retinal damage, no degeneration, etc. The good news was that that my eyes, like the rest of me, were merely growing older. The bad news was that there is no treatment for the problem. Floaters are just something you have to live with - even this large obnoxious one swimming in the very center of my vision.
During the months prior to this, in preparation for my upcoming hypnotherapy certification class, I had been reading many books on NLP, hypnotherapy, and self-hypnosis by authors such as Rossi, Hogan and Hunter. Inherent in many of the techniques suggested by these authors was the use of metaphor and guided imagery. An example might be to control pain by imagining a device, perhaps with a control knob, which could be turned down to decrease the pain. Since I am an electrical engineer by trade, being both visual, and analytical, such a device metaphor seemed useful in dealing with my annoying visual companion.
Also, during this time, I had become very dedicated to the study and practice of meditation, spending approximately an hour in trance each evening before retiring. In the practice of meditation, affirmations are also very significant tools. Many authors (Peterson, "Creative Meditation"; Leichtman & Japiksi, "Active Meditation") describe them as a means to accomplish useful change through the meditative process. The idea immediately suggested itself, that my normal mediation time could be used to install a simple self-hypnotic pattern, reinforcing it using affirmations, to help me manage the obnoxious floater problem.
That evening, during meditation, as I was going into trance, an image formed in my mind of an optical filtering device, which I imagined in place between my retina and my brain. This device was "programmed" to filter out unwanted "garbage" images, such as my floater. I mentally switched it on and reinforced it with the affirmation: "You have a filter in your mind which removes unwanted spots from your field of vision". In addition, I installed an anchor on my left hand by touching my left thumb and middle finger (convenient when driving, with your hand around the steering wheel). Descending into meditative trance, while holding my thumb/finger anchor in place, I silently and continuously repeated this affirmation in place of my normal unspoken meditative cue words.
The next day was sunny and bright, a perfect opportunity to test my imaginary filtering device. While stuck in traffic on my way to work, the familiar spot appeared. Gripping thumb to finger around the steering wheel, and silently repeating to myself: "you have a filter..." the spot abruptly vanished. It remained delightfully absent for several moments - until I moved my eyes. As it reappeared, I again repeated, "You have a filter..." placing thumb to finger. The spot again obediently faded to oblivion. Each time the spot appeared I repeated my affirmation and the spot vanished.
The next several days were clear and bright, affording lots of additional practice opportunity. Within a few weeks, I found that the mere appearance of the spot would the trigger thought of the affirmation, thus invoking the filter. Now, the moment the spot appears it triggers the filter, which suppresses it. Thus, the spot has become its own demise.
Visual floaters can be a major annoyance, and might be the sign of a more serious vision problem. Please consult your eye doctor should you experience a sudden or extraordinary occurrence of them. However, for floaters resulting from the normal aging process, this simple combination of self-hypnotic imagery, anchoring, and affirmation can help you manage them conveniently and effectively. A few evenings of trancework, combined with a few days to weeks of practice, and you may find that they have become manageable to insignificant. And the more you practice this technique, the less you will experience your unwanted visual companions.