FLOATERS AND SPOTS

What are floaters and spots? 

Floaters (often called floating spots) are small, semi-transparent cobwebs, specks or squiggles that appear in your field of vision. This is caused from small particles within the gel inside the eye that become noticeable when they fall within the line of sight. They move when you move your eyes, but tend to drift or lag behind your eye movements. They may also appear along with flashes of light. 

Does everyone have floaters? 

Almost everyone sees a few floaters at one time or another. They can occur more frequently and become more noticeable with age. If you notice a sudden change in the number or size of floaters, you should contact your optometrist right away. This is to ensure they are not the result of a more serious problem, such as a retinal tear or detachment. 

What causes floaters? 

The inner part of your eye is made up of a clear, jelly-like fluid known as the vitreous. Occasionally, small flecks of protein and other matter become trapped in the vitreous during the formation of the eye before birth and remain there. New floaters are caused by the deterioration of the gel or its surrounding structures as we age or by certain injuries or eye diseases.

Can these floaters cause blindness? 

Most floaters are normal and rarely cause problems. However, a sudden increase in floaters can indicate a more serious problem, such as a retinal hole, tear or detachment. If you notice many floaters all at once or you experience sudden flashes of light, you should consult your optometrist immediately.

How are floaters detected?

As part of a comprehensive eye examination, your optometrist will thoroughly evaluate the vitreous and retina of your eyes using a light and microscope. He or she may use eye drops to dilate your pupils to make them larger. Then look inside your eye with instruments called a biomicroscope to examine the health of the inside of your eyes. Your optometrist will observe the floaters within your eye, as well as ensure the retina remains healthy and intact.  

 

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