Eye Floaters: Are They Serious?
Eye floaters can be a common experience for many people. Have you ever experienced small moving spots appearing in your field of vision? There are different types of eye floaters and causes, so it is important to know if they are serious.
Floaters can come in many shapes, including:
- Gray or Black Dots
- Ring Shaped
- Squiggly lines
- Threadlike Strands
Most of the time, eye floaters are most noticeable when looking at something bright. They usually appear to dart away when you try to focus on them. Try looking up and down to shift the fluid in your eyes. This may move them away from your field of vision. Once you develop eye floaters, it is not uncommon for them to never go away, although they tend to improve or become less noticeable over time.
Did you know?
The reason you can see eye floaters better when looking at something bright is because your pupils contract to a very small size. This reduction in aperture makes floaters more apparent and focused.
What Causes Eye Floaters?
Most eye floaters are caused by small particles of collagen (a protein within our eyes) that have pulled away from the retina. Usually the reason for the collagen to break away is related to age. The clear vitreous gel decreases in size as we age and cannot fill the space. It shrinks and pulls away from the retina causing eye floaters to float freely in the vitreous gel.
These types of floaters can be annoying, but are usually not serious, because they do not interfere with your vision. Every once-in-a-while a larger eye floater may cast a shadow over your vision and is noticeable in certain lighting conditions. Benign eye floaters can occur at any age, but are more common in people between the ages of 50 and 75, especially if they are very nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Eye Floaters
If a sudden increase of floaters occurs, call our office immediately. Another serious indication is any pain onset with eye floaters. Eye floaters can be serious and require medical attention if they are accompanied by flashes of light or a loss of side vision. This could be caused by a retinal tear, retinal detachment or other serious eye emergency. Without immediate treatment, you could have permanent vision loss!
Eye floaters rarely occur after eye surgery or injury, however, if you do experience them after an injury or surgery, be sure to let your eye doctor or surgeon know. Eye floaters can be associated with some eye diseases, tumors and even migraine headaches, as well as viral or fungal infections, so don’t take any chances.
Treatment of Eye Floaters
If you experience eye floaters which are so dense that they do affect your vision, our doctors may refer you to an eye specialist for a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. During this surgery, the vitreous and the floating debris are removed from your eye and are replaced with a salt solution. As with all surgical procedures, there are risks involved, so it is only recommended in extreme cases when eye floaters are causing a severe visual handicap.
If you experience any of the serious symptoms we’ve describe within this article, call us immediately!
407-893-6222 or after hours 407-234-6560!
When in Doubt, Ask VHI
If you experience eye floaters often, be sure to mention it at your next eye examination. Even if our doctors encourage you to try to ignore them, we will have a note of their existence within your eye health record. We will help you monitor them, help protect your vision and answer any questions you might have. Your vision is important to us, and we want the “sparkle in your eye” to be from something other than an eye-related condition. If it has been over a year since your last eye exam, call or schedule an appointment today!