Seeing tiny particles that seem to move around your eyes can be distracting, disconcerting, and even annoying. You may initially feel alarmed at the first sight of those floaters, but there’s no need to panic and rush to your eye doctor right away. What you need to do is to learn about what eye floaters are and investigate your symptoms. This guide will help you do exactly that.
Below, we will answer some of the most common questions asked about eye floaters, its causes, treatments, and risk factors.
What are eye floaters?
Eye floaters are actually debris coming from the vitreous. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the eye and is responsible for maintaining its round shape. It is attached to the retina, and there are a million fibers intertwined within it.
The debris or fiber in the vitreous may appear in the form of spots, specks, cobwebs, dots, and thread-like strings. As they float around the eyes, they may cast a shadow against the retina. As a result, they become more apparent to your line of vision.
Eye floaters are more evident when you look at something bright. When your eye is exposed to bright light, your pupils contract and the aperture lessens, thus making floaters more apparent.
What Causes Eye Floaters to Appear?
Eye floaters are mainly caused by age-related changes in the vitreous. As a person grows older, the vitreous may decrease in size and liquefy. When this happens, the fibers disintegrate and turn into debris that floats within the vitreous.
Another cause for eye floaters is the detachment of the vitreous from the retina. When this occurs, a portion of the retina rips apart and leaks blood, which appears as like small dots scattered in the eyes.
Bleeding, inflammation, blood vessel problems, and injuries can also cause floaters.
When Should I Call the Attention of my Doctor?
The appearance of eye floaters should not be a cause of alarm right away. Even if it annoys your or make you feel disconcerted, you shouldn’t worry too much if it doesn’t cause a major hindrance or disruption to your vision. In fact, some people have learned how to ignore or cope with the presence of floaters in their eyes.
Meanwhile, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible if the appearance of eye floaters happens more frequently and if they increase in volume or number. Eye pain is also a telltale sign that a doctor needs to examine your eyes right away.
Floaters accompanied by sudden flashes and loss of peripheral vision is a symptom of retinal detachment. When you experience these signs, you need to consult with an ophthalmologist immediately to avoid vision loss and blindness. It’s advisable to consult an eye expert that specializes in retinal conditions.
What are the Treatment Options for Eye Floaters?
In most cases, eye floaters don’t require medical treatment. It’s just a matter of learning to cope with them. Simple exercises can help you shift your vision away from these particles. For instance, you can look up and down so that the floaters are shifted away from your line of vision.
If eye floaters pose a threat to your eye health and vision, medical treatments such as laser therapy and surgery may be needed.
Laser therapy is recommended in order to break the debris floating in the vitreous. It is administered with the use of laser beam or light. This process helps shrink the debris and make them less obvious.
Though it’s not a surgical and invasive procedure, laser therapy is not done unless necessary, because it may damage the other parts of the eye if the laser beams are aimed inaccurately.
Vitrectomy, which is a surgical procedure, can be done in order to address eye floaters. The process involves the removal of the vitreous and replacing it with saline solution. The composition of the vitreous is similar to water, and the temporary solution will be replaced when the vitreous regenerates naturally. However, this may not remove the floaters permanently, because they can develop again later on.
Medical procedures for eye floaters can pose some risks such as surgical bleeding, retinal tears, and eye damage. Though these happen rarely, make sure to discuss the pros and cons of a procedure with your ophthalmologist before deciding to go through them.
Who are at Risk to Develop Eye Floaters and How can I Avoid Them?
Aging is the main cause of the changes and deterioration in the vitreous. In fact, eye floaters are common among individuals who are 50 and above. Though growing older is irreversible, you can lessen your chances of experiencing eye floaters if you practice proper eye care. If you experience pain or anything unusual about your eyes, it’s best to consult with your doctor immediately. This helps prevent worse conditions from developing later on.
Risks for experiencing eye floaters are greater for individuals who incurred eye injuries, and those who are nearsighted, suffering from diabetes, and have gone through cataract operation.
Basically, eye problems and conditions such as eye floaters can be kept at bay if you know how to take care of your eyes. So practice healthy habits that are beneficial to the eyes such as frequent hand washing, eating nutritious food that helps maintain proper vision, and going to eye check-ups regularly.
Aside from healthy eye practices, raising your awareness about eye problems like eye floaters and retinal detachment also helps. When you know how eye disorders develops, you will be become more aware on how to lessen your chances.
Did You Know?
- The brain can automatically ignore floaters when they don’t move. In fact the brain does this all the time with objects that have a fixed location.
- Entopic phenomena—which means seeing objects that are actually inside the eyes—takes place whenever eye floaters become apparent in your line of vision.
Light flashes are not actually caused by light. It is simply a result of the electrical signal sent by the retina when it is experiencing pressure from being tugged or torn.