The small spots that appear to move around in the visual field are known as eye floaters. These spots become particularly prominent when you stare at blue skies or lay eyes on white paper which are both very bright. Such moving spots usually don’t impede your vision but can be very irritating. A large eye floater can sometimes obscure your field of vision but it rarely occurs and only when you are in certain specific types of light.
What Are the Symptoms of Eye Floaters?
More often than not, the eye floaters appear to be minor and when you try to watch them closely they flash away.
There are many shapes that the floaters in eye might appear in, like:
- Gray or black dots
- Wavy lines
- Strands that are threadlike, which can be semi-transparent and knobby
Although the eye floatersdo not completely disappear after their development, after some time they do subside a little.
When to See a Doctor
Having a few floaters that remain the same is nothing to worry about. However, in some cases, eye floaters can be a symptom of a much serious medical problem. It is important that you visit an eye specialist immediately if you:
- Feel that the number of the floaters you are seeing has increased suddenly
- See flashes of light along with the floaters
- Start experiencing loss of peripheral vision
- Have eye pain accompanied with the floater or develop them after eye trauma or eye surgery
It is best to take the advice of an ophthalmologist who has expertise in retinal issues. If treatment is not received for this issue immediately then it can lead to permanent loss of sight. Such symptoms can be an indication of:
- Detachment of the retina
- Tear in the retina
- Bleeding inside the eye
What Causes Eye Floaters?
1. Eye Changes Related to Aging
The most common cause of eye floaters is changes due to aging in the jelly-like substance present in the eyeballs known as the vitreous, which aids them in keeping their round shape. With the passage of time, the partial liquefying of vitreous occurs. It causes the vitreous to pull away from the interior surface of the eyeball. The vitreous becomes stringy and clumped as it sags and shrinks and pieces of it start blocking the light going through the eyes, resulting in small shadows cast on your retina.
2. Inflammation in the Back of the Eye
Inflammation that occurs in the uvea layers present in the back of the eye is known as posterior uveitis. This inflammation may be caused due to inflammatory disease, an infection or a number of other reasons and can result in eye floaters.
3. Bleeding in the Eye
Blood vessel issues and even injury to the eye are among the causes that may result in bleeding into the vitreous.
4. Retinal Tars
Sagging of the vitreous can lead to tearing of the retina as it puts pressure on the retina until it tears apart. Retinal tears can cause retinal detachment if they are not treated at an early stage. Retinal detachment occurs when the retina gets separated from the back of the eye because of fluid accumulation behind it. You might even get permanently blind if you do not seek treatment for retinal detachment.
5. Some Rare Causes of Eye Floaters
- Nearsightedness: People suffering from myopia or nearsightedness are more likely to have eye floaters than other. Such people are also the perfect candidates for quick paced vitreous syneresis.
- Deposits: The light going from the front to the back of the eye can get impeded due to the formation of crystal-like deposits in the vitreous.
- Diabetic retinopathy: Blood vessels leading up to the retina can be damaged due to diabetes. Because of this damage to the vessels, the retina loses its ability to interpret the light and images that hit it.
- Intraocular tumors
- Migraine headaches visual aura
6. Risks of Eye Floaters
Your risk of having floaters increase if you have the following factors:
- Being over 50 years old
- Having Myopia
- Trauma to the eye
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Inflammation of the eye
- Cataract surgery complications
Eye Floaters Treatment
Usually people tend to ignore eye floaters and learn to live with them. It is often observed that after a time the floaters become less prominent. Their need for treatment only arises in cases when the benign eye floaters become a bit too irritating.
Moving the floaters away from your vision field by shifting your eyes is a great way of getting them away if they start causing too much trouble. The fluid present in the eyes will move this way causing the floaters to go away. It is better to look up and down than looking from side to side when trying to avoid floaters in eye.
Although it rarely happens but if you feel your eyesight is being impaired because of the floaters then considering eye floaters treatment becomes necessary.
Some of the treatments options available are:
- Disrupting the floaters through laser: In this treatment, the floaters present in the vitreous are targeted by a special laser which causes them to break up and make them less prominent. This treatment is performed by an ophthalmologist and the people who have undergone it have had mixed views about its effectiveness.
- Laser surgery is not used frequently for treating floaters because there is a risk that the retina might get damaged if the laser is not aimed correctly.
- Vitrectomy: In this treatment, the removal of the vitreous occurs through a tiny incision. The ophthalmologist replaces the vitreous with a solution that keeps the eye in shape. There is a risk of retinal tears and bleeding associated with vitrectomy. Moreover, there is also a chance that the surgery might not be able to get all of the floaters out and new ones develop after the surgery.
You may watch a video below to see a clearer demonstration of what eye floaters are as well as its types: