Have you ever noticed something moving in your eye when blinking or looking in different directions? While it doesn’t hurt, it looks as though something’s floating around in your eye. If so, you probably have floaters. Surprisingly, roughly seven out of every 10 people have them.
In most cases, eye floaters are nothing more than changes that occur naturally with age. With age, the vitreous, a jelly-like substance, inside of the eyes begins to contract and liquefy. As a result, tiny pieces of collagen fibers form within the vitreous. When that happens, people notice small shadows or floaters.
However, floaters can also indicate a more serious problem. So, if you notice an increase in floaters that comes on quickly, don’t hesitate to see an eye specialist. Most importantly, when combined with flashes of light, it could call for emergency intervention.
As mentioned, you would typically notice tiny shapes that move around when you blink or look in different directions. Sometimes, they’re relatively small, while other times they’re quite large. In addition, the floaters would move with your eyes. However, if you tried to focus on a floater, it would quickly vanish from your line of vision.
Also, floaters can settle down. When that happens, they often move out of your line of vision. Floaters are more noticeable when looking at something with a white or light-colored background. For instance, if you have eye floaters, you would easily see them when looking up at the sky or focusing on a white wall.
Often, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if any of the following occurs, you need to make an appointment with an eye doctor right away.
Excessive number of floaters
Sudden development of new floaters
A blurry spot that compromises your ability to see
Floaters combined with flashes of light
A dark area on one or both sides of your peripheral vision
Any of these symptoms could point to a tear in the retina, which may or may not involve detachment. If not diagnosed and treated immediately, it can lead to blindness.
Uveitis is the medical term for inflammation that develops in the middle layer of tissue or the uvea. In the case of posterior uveitis, the back of the eye, including both the retina and choroid layer, becomes inflamed. In turn, this causes floaters to appear. Usually, an inflammatory disease, infection, or some type of autoimmune disorder is the underlying cause.
Bleeding can occur in the vitreous. Typically, that’s due to a tear in the retina with detachment. However, other causes include high blood pressure, diabetes, blocked blood vessels, and even injury. Regardless, the blood cells appear as floaters.
To treat certain eye disorders, a specialist injects medication into the vitreous. Sometimes, that causes the formation of air bubbles, which appear as floaters until they’re absorbed by the eye. Also, eye surgeons add silicone oil bubbles associated with surgeries on the retina and vitreous. Again, until absorbed, they look like floaters.
Yes, even the eyes can experience a stroke. This happens when there’s a lack of sufficient blood flow to tissues located at the front portion of the optic nerve. For one thing, an eye stroke is incredibly dangerous to a person’s vision. For another, it can indicate that high risk of suffering a major stroke.
According to researchers, damage to the small blood vessels going to the eye should serve as a warning. This kind of blockage can cause almost immediate changes in vision. That includes darker spots or areas, blurriness, and shadows or floaters.
Although floaters might not pose any risk, they can. For that reason, if you have them, you should have your eyes examined as soon as possible. However, if you notice any of the warning signs of something more serious, schedule an appointment right away. For optimal care, call 702-341-7254 or 702-452-2020 to see one of the optometrists at Kopolow & Girisgen Doctors of Optometry in Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada.