Simply put, eye floaters are small specks within your vision. They get their name due to the way they move around with each turn of your gaze, where they constantly “float” within your vision. These small spots often look like cobwebs, but can resemble uneven dots, lines, or squiggles. These shapes can vary on a case by case basis due to the fact that eye floaters are formed differently in each person’s eye.
Eye floaters remain semi-transparent in appearance. As such, they don’t obstruct your vision completely — instead, they create a semi-translucent barrier throughout your vision. The size of these eye floaters can vary, but generally, they remain relatively small. Since these spots float around constantly, they can follow your direct line of sight wherever you look. Sometimes, however, they will move out of your line of sight when you try to look directly at them.
Many people who suffer from eye floaters only see a few spots that do not interfere with their daily activities. If a person has many floaters or very large floaters, he or she may have difficulties reading or driving. While eye floaters can remain unharmful in most scenarios, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, they are symptoms of a serious underlying condition, such as retinal tear or detachment. That’s why it is best to reach out to an ophthalmologist or optometrist when you notice an abrupt change in the appearance of the floaters, or an increase in the number of floaters in your vision.
Here are some common issues that may often lead to eye floaters:
Eye floaters mostly occur due to age-related issues, which is why they are most commonly seen in people who are over 50 years old. The vitreous is a gel-like substance inside of the eye that protects it from shocks and helps it retain its shape. It also connects the retina to the rest of the optical structure. Any form of light that hits your retina first passes through the vitreous. As we age, this semi-solid substance becomes more and more liquid. This causes the fibers in the vitreous to cast shadows on the retina and form these floaters. In its normal state, this issue is not a big cause of concern. However, if the amount of floaters in your eye becomes too much to bear, you should seek treatment.
Sometimes, inflammation in the back of the eye due to conditions such as posterior uveitis or choroiditis can also cause the formation of eye floaters. This issue occurs when inflammatory substances release into the vitreous and affect its overall function. Eye inflammation can sometimes cause permanent loss of vision, so if eye floaters suddenly appear and are accompanied by redness, itching, or swelling, contact us as soon as possible.
If an underlying disease such as hypertension or sudden trauma from an injury causes your eye to bleed, it can also affect the vitreous. It is common to notice the sudden formation of eye floaters after going through such an incident. Re blood cell remnants can appear as spots in your vision, so it is best to make sure that your retina is healthy by consulting with a qualified eye doctor.
If the vitreous in your eye pulls away from the retina, it can cause a hole or a tear. This particular issue can happen abruptly, and when your retina tears, it can result in a shower of floaters, flashes of light, and even irreversible vision loss if not treated promptly. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate treatment from the experienced team at Hill Vision Services.
No matter the root cause of floater formation, these spots can make a permanent home in your eyes. To check for floaters, our optometrists will perform a dilated eye exam. We will give you some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and check your eyes for floaters and other eye problems. Once diagnosed, our optometrists will discuss your options. You may need to have regular eye exams to properly monitor the vitreous and help prevent a more serious eye problem from happening down the road.
In rare cases, if your floaters make it hard to see clearly and interfere with your daily life, we may recommend a surgery or laser therapy to remove them. This is performed by a doctor who specializes in retina surgery.
- Laser Therapy – Laser therapy is a procedure that uses a laser to break up the floater formation and induce them to settle at the bottom of your eye. This makes them less noticeable and clears your vision.
- Vitrectomy – A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure that replaces your affected vitreous with a clear solution.
If your eye floaters have become too much of a problem for your vision, discuss your options with a knowledgeable optometrist or ophthalmologist. Our team at Hill Vision Services can provide you with all of the information needed to help you make a decision.