WHAT ARE FLOATERS?

Dr. Jim Martin 08/18/2015

627851_orig.jpgMost people at some time in their life have experienced an annoying eye floater. Eye floaters, while disruptive to your vision, are often benign and do not require medical treatment. While they can occur at any age, they are most prevalent in people age 50 to 75 and are often more common with those who have had cataract surgery or are nearsighted.

What Is An Eye ‘Floater?’

By definition, eye floaters are tiny moving spots or lines that occur in your general field of vision. They can appear as ring-like, squiggle, threadlike, or black or gray dots. No matter how hard you attempt to focus on them, they will consistently dart from your focus. 

Benign eye floaters are small pieces of collagen, a protein. The collagen is stored as fine fibers that turn into shreds in the gel back part of your eye called the vitreous fluid. As you continue to age, not only will the collagen pieces begin to shred, the vitreous fluid contained in that back space will also slowly decrease. As the fluid level decreases, it will begin to pull away from the retina. The collagen that had once attached the vitreous fluid to the retina is now loose and will begin to appear in your eye as floaters.

Unfortunately, these occur as a natural process of aging and there is nothing that can be done for them, although they often do get better over time. 

Not All Floaters Are Benign

While most cases of eye floaters are benign, on occasion they are part of a more serious condition. Below is a list of serious conditions that can be associated with eye floaters:

  • Retinal Tear

  • Retinal Detachment

  • Eye Tumors

  • Vitreous Hemorrhage

  • Vitreous or Retinal Infections

It is important to contact an eye doctor if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms associated with the floaters:

  • You begin to develop the eye floaters after a serious eye trauma or eye surgery.

  • Eye floaters seem to continue to get worse over time.

  • There is a sudden onset of the eye floaters worsening.

  • You experience pain in the eye while the floaters are present.

  • There are flashes of light or major vision changes while you’re experiencing the floaters.

The above symptoms could be related to a major medical issue and should be evaluated by your doctor immediately.

If you are in need of an eye care specialist in the Amarillo area, contact Broome Optical today for an appointment. Maintaining proper eye health is important at any age, because life is worth seeing.

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