Have you ever noticed tiny spots or specks in the form of dark shadows floating in your eye? Perhaps you have noticed them more when looking at a clear, bright sky or computer screen. These tiny spots are common and usually cause no harm to your vision. However, in some rare cases, floaters could be symptoms of a serious eye problem. Here, New York City laser surgeon Dr. Sandra Belmont shares some important information on eye floaters.
The center of the eye is filled with a clear gel-like substance called the vitreous. Floaters are tiny bundles or clumps of cells and undissolved gel substances that move or “float” around in the vitreous. It may look like they are on or in front of your eye, but what you are actually seeing are shadows cast onto the retina. Floaters come in the form of:
Floaters first occur during the formation of your eyes before you are born. Small flecks or protein or other matter become trapped in the vitreous fluid, causing floaters. As you age, the vitreous fluid breaks down, resulting in more floaters. Because of this, seniors tend to have more floaters in their vision than younger adults. Most harmless floaters fade away in time.
Eye floaters may sometimes be symptoms of more serious eye conditions. In these cases, a person will most likely experience other symptoms. Eye floaters can be signs of:
The sudden appearance of floaters can mean the vitreous is pulling away from your retina, resulting in posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). PVD is usually harmless. However, floaters accompanied by light flashes may be a sign that the retina itself is detaching from the inner back of the eye. In these rarer cases, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. If left untreated, retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision loss.
As mentioned above, most floaters disappear with time and are not a medical emergency. Sometimes, however, floaters may be a sign of retinal tear or detachment, in which case laser surgery can be performed to reattach the retina.
Patients who experience frequent floaters may benefit from vitrectomy, an eye procedure performed by a retinal specialist. During a vitrectomy, the vitreous is removed entirely from the eye and replaced with a saline liquid. A vitrectomy is only performed when vision is heavily impaired by floaters.
If you are concerned about frequent floaters in your vision, Dr. Belmont can help. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today by calling (212) 486-2020.