Monday, April 2, 2012

A Public Health Announcement

You are not alone.
Do you frequently find yourself running into walls, chairs, tables, or footboards?  Are your shoulders, hips, buttocks and knees constantly riddled with bruises and you can’t remember why?

It’s not your fault.

You might have Floating Eyeball Syndrome (FES).

FES is the inability to recognize the existence of one’s body beyond the immediate viewing area.  Common signs of FES are the inability to negotiate corners, raise one head under objects, or walk more than three blocks without personal injury.

The symptoms of FES should not be ignored as they can be potentially fatal.  People with FES have been known to die by hitting low hanging objects at high speed or falling off curbs into traffic.

People with FES should not operate heavy or light machinery, ride bicycles or any other wheeled object, or brandish sharp utensils.  Wearing headphones, hats, or sunglasses can exacerbate FES and it is highly recommended that people with FES not be given cell phones, especially text capable cell phones, as they can significantly increase the fatality rate of people with FES.

If you don’t have FES, but you know someone who does, the following is recommended:

·         Step loudly or announce your presence before rounding corners or approaching an FES person from behind to prevent injury to yourself or to the person suffering from FES.

·         Do not open cabinet doors above people with FES or allow people with FES to reach for objects under tables or cabinets.  It is especially hazardous if you call out the person’s name while they are in these positions.

·         Keep cats and other small animals away from people with FES as significant damage can occur to both, such as squishing, tripping, and asphyxiation by sitting.

While there are some documented cases of FES resolving on its own, it is predominantly a chronic illness and should be treated as such.  With proper care and attention, people with FES have been known to live relatively normal lives, albeit with occasional setbacks, such as periods of sudden black-outs, cuts, and contusions generally associated with collisions with stationary objects.

While it might be tempting to wrap people with FES in significant quantities of foam rubber or to at least convince them to wear helmets, it would be more helpful to provide FES sufferers with devices that create awareness beyond the eyeballs.  A recent study suggests that implanting antennas all over the body of those with FES, not unlike those on caterpillars, holds much promise.  These antennas would emit sounds as objects near the FES sufferer.  The FES sufferer would then be alerted that danger was approaching, encouraging slower movement and caution.  There is much research yet to be done, but the current results are hopeful.

Finally, keep in mind that people with FES want to be treated like everyone else, with sensitivity and caring.  If you see someone you suspect might have FES, clear the path for them and offer them your hand (slowly) in friendship. They will appreciate your effort.

If you have FES, you are not alone.

How do I know this?  Because, I have Floating Eyeball Syndrome. It’s time that FES sufferers stand, very carefully, and be counted. 


  1. I sympathize. I have long struggled with a bad case of CLUMSY, which is very similar to FES.

  2. I sympathize. They are often mistaken for each other.


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