What are Eye Floaters?
Eye Floaters, Interesting Eye Articles
07 December 2022
As your eyes move, you may notice spots or shadows in your field of vision. They’re small and most noticeable when staring at a bright background, such as a white sheet of paper. Getting a closer look at them can be challenging, as they will dart away as you try to look at them directly. They can appear in different shapes, such as tiny dots, thin lines, and may also resemble cobwebs.
Usually caused by ageing, or severe myopia, collagen in your vitreous begins breaking apart and clumping together. These will then cast shadows on your retina, and you’ll see them as floaters, as they block light from entering the eyeball. A clearer picture can be provided through the diagram at the top of the page.
What causes eye floaters?
Floaters can have a variety of causes, while some may not be a cause for concern, others are a sign that medical attention is needed.
As we age, the vitreous gel will liquefy and weaken, and the collagen fibers that form its connective tissue will break off into small pieces. They may also clump together and become the lumps or strings you can see in your field of vision.
Eye surgeries or eye medication
If you’ve had medication injected into your vitreous, it may cause air bubbles to form, and until your eye absorbs them, they can be seen as floaters. Silicon air bubbles that are added during surgery may also be seen as floaters.
Tears in the retina
As the vitreous gel contracts and turns to liquid, it will begin to pull on the retina, sometimes the force of it is enough to lead to the retina being torn. If left untreated, it can lead to retinal detachment and subsequent blindness.
With those Type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk, this condition causes floaters, blurry vision, and dark areas in your field of vision. It causes blood vessel damage in the retina and if left untreated can progress to diabetic macular edema.
Inflammation at the back of the eye
Also known as posterior uveitis, it is when the uvea (the middle layer of tissue in your eye wall) becomes inflamed. This affects the retina or choroid and causes floaters in the vitreous. The causes of this condition can include autoimmune disorders and infection, but the cause can sometimes be unknown.
Bleeding in the eye
If your vitreous is bleeding, it can boil down to numerous causes, such as diabetes, hypertension, retinal tears and detachments, and so on. This condition will also cause floaters.
When should you seek medical attention?
While floaters are common and usually harmless, you want to book an appointment with your ophthalmologist to ensure there’s nothing else that needs attention.
However, there are a few warning signs you may want to take note of:
● A lot of new floaters appearing
● You see flashes of light
● You experience sudden blurry vision or vision loss
● Your eye(s) begins to hurt
These signs, when accompanied by floaters, usually indicate that a serious condition has developed, and if left unattended could lead to complications.
What are the treatments available?
Eye floaters, if deemed to be a harmless condition by your ophthalmologist, can simply be ignored. Despite being an annoyance, you may be able to ignore them. However, if they obstruct your vision in rare cases, then some treatments can be performed.
Vitrectomy (Removal of the vitreous through surgery)
An ophthalmologist who specializes in the retina will perform this treatment which is named Vitrectomy. It involves removing the vitreous through a small incision and then replaced by a solution to help your eye stay in shape.
Vitreolysis (Disrupting floaters through a laser)
A special laser is aimed at the floaters to break them up. They’ll be less noticeable, and your results may vary from each person.
Have further questions? Contact us or book an appointment for a session to have your eyes assessed.