What Are Floaters?
Eye floaters are clumps of protein floating inside your eyes that cast shadows on your retina. These shadows cause small dark spots to appear in your vision, which are known as floaters. They are extremely common, and many people of all ages will experience floaters in their lifetime.
What Causes Floaters?
Floaters are generally caused by the shrinking of your vitreous, the jelly-like substance in your eye that helps it keep its round shape. The vitreous will tug at the retina and release more material that can form floaters. As you age, the vitreous also tends to become stringy and break down, leading to the protein fibers that make it up to clump together and develop into floaters.
While anyone can experience floaters, there are certain circumstances that make you more susceptible to developing them. These include:
- High degree of near-sightedness
- Old age
- Recent cataract operation
In rare cases, floaters can be caused by more serious eye trauma, such as infection, inflammation, hemorrhaging, retinal tears, or eye injury. If this happens, you should see an eye doctor right away for emergency treatment.
Are Floaters Dangerous?
Floaters are normal and usually not dangerous. However, they can sometimes be a symptom of a more severe eye problem. It is always best to inform your eye doctor if you do see eye floaters and let them know of any sudden changes affecting your vision.
Signs that your eye floaters may be an indicator of a more severe problem include:
- Floaters that develop suddenly
- Large number of floaters
- Large number of flashes of light
- Curtain-like dark veil over your vision
These can be signs of a posterior vitreous detachment or PVD, where the vitreous separates from the eye. This serious eye condition can lead to a retinal detachment and possible vision loss, so requires emergency treatment. Alert your eye doctor right away if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Most eye floaters will simply settle below your line of vision and cause no harm. Nevertheless, since they can be an indication of a larger eye problem, you should always inform your optometrist about their presence and if any changes occur to your vision. The Eye Doctors will evaluate your eye floaters to ensure they are not a sign of a more serious condition. Come see our Trinity and New Tampa Eye Doctors today to protect your vision!