Spots, flecks, or squiggles that appear to drift into your visual field are called floaters. In the majority of cases, floaters are a harmless side effect of aging. However, floaters can also be a symptom of an underlying eye problem that should be addressed by an optometrist.
Here’s what you need to know about eye floaters and how you should respond.
What are Floaters?
Floaters can appear as:
These irregularities float in and out of your vision, typically moving away when you attempt to focus on them.
Floaters are caused when clumps of fibers within your eye cast a shadow on your retina. People usually notice them when looking at something white, very bright or solid. Eye floaters usually occur as you age, when the fibers start to shrink and clump up. However, floaters can also be a sign of the following eye conditions:
Injury: Inflammation and bleeding from eye injuries tend to cause dark spots in your vision.
Eye Disease: Diseases such as eye tumors and diabetic retinopathy can lead to floaters.
Retinal Detachment or Tears: A retinal detachment is caused when a part of the retina separates from the back of the eye. Floaters are a cause of these serious conditions that require immediate attention from your eye doctor, or you can be at risk for permanent vision loss.
Should You Call Your Optometrist About Floaters?
Always mention any vision changes or eye problems to your optometrist during your regular exams. It’s worth noting that regular floaters are only occasionally visible by you and they can be difficult to see during a retinal exam.
Contact your doctor right away if:
You notice a sudden increase in the number of floaters
Flashes of light start accompanying the floaters
There’s a sudden increase in the size of the floater
Your eyes hurt
You have trouble seeing or your vision is blurry
A dark shadow or curtain appears in part of your side (peripheral) vision
Eye floaters are an urgent matter for your optometrist, especially if they appear suddenly. They often signal retinal detachments, which could cause irreversible blindness if left untreated. Floaters accompanied by a sudden loss of vision, pain, or flashes could be a sign of an underlying serious eye condition.
What Treatments are Available for Eye Floaters?
In the majority of cases, there is no treatment for floaters, people just get used to them and eventually your brain learns to ignore them. However, if floaters start blocking vision, an eye doctor might recommend one of the following treatments:
Laser Therapy: This procedure is known as vitreolysis and is a new innovative procedure that can reduce and sometimes even eliminate floaters. Pointing a laser at the fiber clumps that cause floaters breaks them up, makes them smaller and less noticeable.
Vitrectomy: A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure during which your eye doctor will remove the cause of the eye floaters via a small incision. This procedure is highly invasive and therefore reserved for more complicated cases of floaters.
An eye exam is always necessary in order to determine the best treatment option for an individual with eye floaters. Generally, eye floaters are simply a harmless annoyance, and your doctor will recommend more frequent eye exams to keep tabs on any changes to your vision.
What If You Have Eye Floaters?
Routine eye exams are important for maintaining healthy vision. Contact Dr. Oker today to set up a comprehensive eye exam if you notice floaters or any other vision abnormalities.
Make your appointment today by calling (952) 944-2792 or simply schedule your appointment online. At the Eden Prairie Eye Care, we’ll diagnosis the cause of these issues and recommend the best treatment plan for you!