Many patients ask about floaters. Floaters look like small specks, dots, circles, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision. While they seem to be in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside. Floaters are made up of tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous that fills your eye. What patients see as specks and dots are shadows that these clumps cast on the retina.
Floaters are most noticeable when patients look at something plain with no pattern or texture such as a blank wall or a blue sky.
The vitreous in our eyes starts to thicken or shrink as we age. In some patients clumps or strands form. If the vitreous pulls away from the back of the eye it is called posterior vitreous detachment. Floaters usually happen as a result of posterior vitreous detachment.
Floaters are not serious and they tend to fade or go away over time. Severe floaters can be removed by surgery, but this is seldom necessary.
Some patients are more likely to get floaters. These include:
- Patients who are nearsighted
- Patients who have had surgery for cataracts
- Those people who have had inflammation/swelling inside the eye
Most floaters are not a problem. However, there are times when they can be signs of a more serious condition. You should see an ophthalmologist at Eye Care Associates if the following symptoms apply.
- You notice a lot of new floaters
- You have a lot of eye flashes
- A shadow appears in your peripheral (side) vision
- A gray curtain covers part of your vision
The symptoms above could be the result of a torn or detached retina where the retina pulls away from the back or your eye. This is a serious condition that needs to be treated immediately by one of the ophthalmologists at Eye Care Associates.