Have you ever noticed strange alien-like specks in your vision that you can never quite seem to focus on? “Floaters” is what they are quite aptly named, and they are more common than you might think.
Keep reading to find out if they are something that you should worry about or not!
What are Floaters and Flashes?
While it may seem like the dots and stringy shadows are moving over the surface of your eye, they aren’t. Floaters are actually caused by bits of gel and cells inside your eyes.
These clumps form in the vitreous, which is the gel that fills your eye and gives it shape. Floaters tend to happen more often with age.
This is because, with age, the vitreous in our eyes becomes thicker and shrinks. Floaters are also more common if you are nearsighted, have had cataract surgery, or have inflammation inside of your eyes.
What you are seeing are the shadows cast by the clumps. This is why they are more pronounced when you are looking at something bright and plain like a clear sky or a blank wall.
Since they exist inside your eye, they float independently, which is why they seem to move away as you try to look at them.
If you have ever experienced what seem like random flashes or streaks of light in your vision, you might be concerned. But these are also rather common and might not actually represent any kind of threat to your health.
Flashes occur when the vitreous rubs or pulls on your retina, which may sound serious, but it happens more with age. Flashes may also be a symptom of a migraine, which happens when the blood vessels in your brain spasm.
When are Floaters and Flashes a Problem?
Floaters and flashes generally go away after time and are not a big problem. In some cases, floaters may need to be removed if they are too excessive.
The vitreous may completely remove itself, which is called posterior vitreous detachment. Posterior vitreous detachment leads to an increase in both floaters and flashes.
Floater removal surgery can be performed when necessary. This should only occur when vision is being seriously affected by the number of floaters.
During a vitrectomy, the surgeon removes the vitreous gel and replaces it with saline. There should be no noticeable differences in your vision after the procedure. It does carry some risks, which is why it is only recommended in extreme cases.
If you notice a sudden increase of either floaters or flashes, you should contact an ophthalmologist. While the floaters are not dangerous, they may be a symptom of a much more serious issue like a detached retina.
Retinal detachment can occur because of injury, genetics, previous eye disease, or as a symptom of aging. If your retina detaches, it must be immediately treated. Not treating a detached retina could lead to permanent vision loss.
Have questions about flashes and floaters or think you may have a problem with your retina? Schedule an appointment at the Pinke Eye Center in Shelton, CT today!