Are “Eye Floaters” a Sign of Serious Vision Problems?
Have you ever noticed tiny specks in your field of vision and thought “What the heck are those?” They are called “eye floaters,” and are basically tiny spots that drift through your visual field. Perhaps you see them when looking at something bright, like a light, the sky or even a piece of paper. These are annoying facts of life but they usually don’t – or shouldn’t – interfere with your ability to see.
That said, large floaters have the potential to cast a slight shadow on your vision, but for the most part, we all just learn to live with floaters and don’t even notice them most of the time. It’s very rare that floaters require treatment or signal a larger problem.
Symptoms of Floaters
Since their tendency is to “float” around your eye, floaters are hard to focus on. As soon as you try to focus, they dart away. Floaters come in a variety of shapes, such as:
- Squiggly lines
- Black or gray dots
- Threadlike strands
Once there, floaters don’t typically go away. However, you tend to notice them less as time goes on.
Most floaters are comprised of tiny flecks of collagen, which is a type of protein – part of the vitreous of your eye. The vitreous is a gel-like substance in the back of your eye. As you get older (usually between 50 and 75), the fibers that comprise the vitreous shrink into clumps of small shreds, which cast shadows on your eyes. Most times, this is harmless. However, if you notice a flash or ANY new floater, get to your eye doctor as soon as you can, as this can mean the vitreous has detached from the retina.
Age is the main cause but there are other, more rare causes as well, such as:
- Eye disease
- Eye injury
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Eye tumors
- Crystal-like deposits forming in the vitreous
In some cases, serious eye disorders associated with floaters can result in a detached or torn retina, vitreous bleeding, or inflamed vitreous brought on by infection, according to WebMD.
Sometimes, people who are prone to migraines may mistake a floater for a visual aura associated with a severe headache. This should only last a few minutes and should resolve with the passing of the migraine.
For the most part, eye floaters do not signal a serious vision problem. As long as you keep up with your regular check-ups, your eye doctor should be able to keep you updated on any new developments. Call us with any questions on floaters and to schedule your appointment at 302-239-1933. We are proud to see patients in Wilmington, Newark, Bear, Middletown and other Delaware towns