Just when you think you know everything about health happenings, something else ‘floats’ by. What you need to know about floaters in your eyes may save your eyesight…..
What are floaters? Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous which is a clear gel-like fluid on the inside of your eye. They are more noticeable in a bright light or sunlight and look like little dots darting about when you roll your eyes around.
Although they appear to be in front of you, they are actually shadows from inside your eye recast from the retina. They appear as small dots, circles, lines or even cloudy cobwebs. Sometimes you get a perception that a bug or a movement is in front of you, when actually, it is a floater.
Who gets floaters? Many floaters are harmless and you can get use to them over time. They require no treatment or surgery. If you have floaters, and suddenly get new ones, you need to have an eye examination.
Do floaters ever cause problems? Yes, they can. In middle age, the vitreous gel starts to thicken and shrink. As the vitreous pulls away from the back wall of the eye, it causes what is called ‘a posterior vitreous detachment. In doing so, it cases floaters to appear in your eyes.
This vitreous detachment is common in persons who:
have undergone cataract operations;
have had YAG laser eye surgery;
have had eye inflammation.
When are floaters a serious indication of possible eye problems?
When the vitreous detaches, it may cause floaters or flashes that may be symptoms of a tear in your retina. If it is not treated as soon as possible, the retina may detach from the back of your eye. The only treatment for a detached retina is surgery (laser).
Flashes that look like flashing lights or lightning streaks (stars) can be experienced as we grown older. If they suddenly appear, contact your ophthalmologist immediately to make sure your retina has not been torn.
Always contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible to be checked if: one new floater suddenly appears; you see sudden flashes of light; you notice loss of side vision.
If a torn retina goes unchecked or untreated, it could result in a loss of vision.
This article is informational only, and not intended for self-diagnosis in lieu of medical advice and treatment. If you are having symptoms that are urgent in nature, please call 911 or your local medical emergency line. If you have symptoms that are not urgent but are of concern, please seek qualified medical advice.
© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved.