Have you ever seen a flashing spot, strand, squiggly line or ring that seems to dart and drift in front of your eyes? Have these visual apparitions — called floaters — made you pause and wonder whether anything was wrong with your eyes? Dr. Edward Hedaya of InVision EyeCare, a group of ophthalmologists and optometrists in Lakewood, wants to alleviate your fears. Floaters are normal and usually nothing to be concerned about, as long as they are not accompanied by loss of vision or eye pain. Here, Dr. Hedaya explains what you should know about floaters.
Causes of Eye Floaters
The eye is filled with a gel-like material called vitreous humor that helps the eye keep its round shape. Over time and with age, the vitreous can start to shrink. Tiny collagen strands in the vitreous can become stringy and cast shadows on the retina. When you see “floaters,” what you are actually seeing are the shadows from the collagen strands. They may be shaped like dots, lines, strands, cobwebs or rings. Floaters never stay still and seem to continually drift around the eye when you try to look directly at them.
Everyone experiences the occasional eye floater. Most of the time, floaters are completely harmless. But in rare cases, they may indicate something more serious.
When Floaters Are Serious
A sudden increase in floaters, or floaters that are accompanied by loss of peripheral vision or eye pain, could indicate a retinal detachment, an eye emergency in which the retina pulls away from its normal position at the back of the eye. Retinal detachment needs to be treated quickly to prevent long-term damage and vision loss.
It’s also possible for floaters to become so numerous and prominent that they impair vision. In those cases, a surgical procedure called vitrectomy may be needed to remove floaters from the vitreous. During a vitrectomy, the vitreous gel is removed from the eye and replaced with a salt solution. This does not cause any noticeable changes in vision but it eliminates the occurrences of floaters. Vitrectomy is usually reserved for the worst cases of floaters because it carries a significant risk of complications.
Are Floaters Affecting Your Vision?
If you are experiencing numerous or prominent floaters that impede your vision, Dr. Hedaya and the InVision EyeCare team can help. Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.