When you start looking around and notice strange things in your field of vision that is not there, you might be worried about your eye health and whether or not you have some sort of eye injury. More than likely, you have something known as eye floaters.
Eye floaters are a strange phenomenon where one will have specks, cobwebs, and small organism-like objects in their direct and peripheral vision. The good news here is that you like have a harmless problem that will take care of itself. However, it could also signify eye problems of some sort.
What Are Eye Floaters?
Eye floaters are small, dark, floating spots that appear in your field of vision. They're usually harmless and don't require treatment. In most cases, healthcare professionals will find no issues at all! However, it can often make people worry that they have eye problems that merit immediate attention from a qualified professional.
Eye floaters are typically clumps of cells in the eye's vitreous, the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the space between the lens and the retina. When they occur, many people might think that there is a problem with their blood vessels, that they are developing something serious like glaucoma, that they have a torn retina, or even that there is a foreign object in the back eye.
However, it might be crucial to determine your eye floaters' source, or at least understand how they work for future reference. This way, you can start taking action to fix the issue.
What Causes Eye Floaters?
There are many possible causes of eye floaters. One common cause is age-related changes in the jelly-like substance (vitreous) that fills your eyeball. The vitreous becomes more liquid as you age, and the tiny fibers clump together. These clumps cast shadows on your retina, and you perceive these shadows as floaters.
However, many different things can cause eye floaters. Some of the more common causes include:
— Debris or dust in the eye
— Changes in the jelly-like substance that fills the center of the eye
— Tiny pieces of tissue that float in the jelly-like substance in the eye
— Excess fluid in the eye
— Swelling of the retina
There can be many causes of eye floaters. Therefore, do not see the above list as comprehensive. In any case, we do know that they're annoying and can make it difficult to see! Sometimes, they go away on their own, but other times, they require treatment.
If you experience new floaters routinely or notice that they get worse, it's important to see your doctor. While most floaters are benign and pose no threat to your vision, some can indicate a more severe condition. Your doctor will be able to determine the cause of your eye floaters and advise you on the best course of treatment.
Symptoms Of Eye Floaters
If you experience eye pain and eye floaters, it could be a sign of an underlying eye disease. A gel-like substance called the vitreous fills the space between the lens and the retina at the back of your eye. This jelly-like substance can sometimes form clumps that cast shadows on your retina, causing the appearance of squiggly lines or dark spots. If the vitreous pulls away from the retina, it's called a vitreous detachment.
Keeping this in mind, here are some of the common symptoms of eye floaters:
— You are seeing small shapes, strings, cobwebs, etc., that move and usually drift around your field of vision.
— There are spots that move away quickly in your vision when you try to focus on them directly.
— There are strange floating objects in your vision that do not appear to actually be there.
— You are seeing objects in your vision that are more pronounced and noticeable when you look at the blue sky.
If you experience a sudden increase in vitreous floaters, it could be due to a posterior vitreous detachment. This is when the vitreous gel shrinks and pulls away from the retina. It's a common condition that usually occurs as we age. However, if you have diabetes, you may be at a higher risk for this condition. If you experience any changes in your vision, be sure to see an eye care professional right away.
How To Treat & Prevent Eye Floaters
Now that we have broken down all that you need to know about the causes and symptoms of eye floaters, you might find yourself wondering what you can do right away to treat the issue. Here are a few options to consider:
Although this is not an ideal first point of action, getting surgery to remove the vitreous is a direct means of getting rid of eye floaters in the most extreme circumstances. To do this, an ophthalmologist will make a small incision (or vitrectomy) in your eye and remove the vitreous.
2. Laser Therapy
If you want to avoid getting surgery altogether, laser therapy might be another great idea to consider while on the hunt for ways to rid yourself of floaters. To do this, you need to visit an ophthalmologist. They will use a laser to break up any of the floaters in your vision directly.
However, it's important to note some risks to doing this kind of procedure. If done improperly, massive damage to the retina can occur. Regardless, the vast majority of people who go down this route report improved vision. On the contrary, some people report that the laser didn't do anything at all! For this reason, consult with your doctor on whether or not this is a good idea.
3. Wait For Them To Go Away
As we have mentioned, eye floaters tend to go away on their own. Therefore, try to forget about it and see if they disappear naturally within a few hours. If not, you might need to get in touch with a medical professional.
4. See A Doctor Immediately
If you experience sudden flashes of light or an increase in eye floaters, you should see an eye doctor immediately. These could be signs of a retinal tear or detachment, leading to permanent vision loss if not treated promptly. An ophthalmologist can diagnose the problem during a comprehensive eye exam and determine the best course of treatment.
The Bottom Line
As we age, our eyesight isn't what it used to be. We start to see things that we never noticed before, like the tiny specks of dust or lint that seem to float in our field of vision. These are called eye floaters, and while they may be annoying, they're usually harmless.
If you start to notice that you get lots of eye floaters, it may be a sign that you have a condition that merits immediate medical help. Therefore, try to get in touch with your doctor right away if you notice that you routinely have eye floaters, and especially if they heavily impact your vision and daily routine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can eye floaters happen in one eye or both eyes at the same time?
Considering that eye floaters are simply caused by many potential sources, it is possible that you can develop floaters in more than one eye at the same time. When this occurs, they can sometimes overlap with one another. In addition, cloud your vision even more than having just one!
In any case, having this issue occur in both eyes at the same time can be especially troublesome. Therefore, it is vital to seek out the assistance of a medical professional if you find yourself directly inconvenienced by them. More often than not, though, they will go away on their own within an hour or so.
Are eye floaters hereditary?
There is no definitive answer to this question as the research on the matter is inconclusive. Some studies suggest that eye floaters may be hereditary, while other studies are not able to confirm this link. Therefore, it is difficult to give a definitive yes or no answer.
In any case, remember that this is a problem that can occur to anybody at any age. For this reason, it isn't easy to pinpoint the cause as simply being hereditary. Although many conditions are, in fact, genetic, this is usually not itself a condition or any cause for concern.
At what age do eye floaters start to appear?
Eye floaters are not usually developed at a particular age. They are a common issue that many people will experience at least once. Therefore, only get concerned if your doctor informs you that you have a severe problem such as a retinal detachment, uveitis, etc. However, it is important to note that floaters are more common as you get older.
As we age, our eyesight inevitably deteriorates. Common eye conditions associated with aging include a detached retina, cornea damage, vision loss, and even eye floaters. Flashing lights and shrinking vitreous humor are also warning signs of a serious condition that may require eye surgery. Although the aging process cannot be stopped, cataract surgery and contact lenses can help improve vision.
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