Eye Floaters: Common and Also Concerning

  • Posted on: Feb 14 2020
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Age-related vision changes are to be expected. However, symptoms such as flashes or floaters may come as an alarming surprise. If you’re over 40 years of age, you may have noticed the occasional objects drifting across your field of vision. This is a floater. Here, we discuss what floaters are and why, as common as they are, we still need to be a little concerned about them.

What is a floater?

A floater isn’t just a visual aberration that flits across the field of vision. Seeing what looks like webbing, black spots, or a random hair is the result of a physical clump of protein in the eye. It is not unusual for proteins to clump together in the eye. We just don’t usually see them. They become visible when the vitreous humor, the gel-like fluid that fills space in the center of the eye, liquefies. The vitreous humor naturally gets watery during mid-life. Its consistency at that time then allows protein clumps to travel easily through this part of the eye. When proteins are floating through the vitreous, they may cast shadows on the retina. This is the floaters that we see, usually when looking at a uniform surface like a bright wall or the sky. Because floaters are made in the eye, when we shift the eye to see them, they move. This is why it is hard to observe them.

Common and Still Concerning

Floaters are one of the most common visual aberrations adults experience. In most cases, we expect them to go away over time. Floaters may be noticed here and there for a few months and then not seen again for years. This could be because they float away from the vitreous or because we just don’t notice them anymore.

When floaters do develop, it is beneficial to have an ophthalmologist examine your eyes. If floaters occur alongside a shadow effect or flashes of light in the field of vision, urgent medical attention is needed. The sudden and severe onset of floaters and flashes may stem from a retinal tear or retinal detachment. These conditions need prompt treatment to prevent vision loss. If floaters are mild and occasional, a thorough eye exam can observe the condition of the retina and surrounding blood vessels to ensure structure is intact and healthy.

Roholt Vision Institute provides comprehensive services to residents of the Canton, Alliance, and Canfield areas. Call an office near you to schedule your eye exam.

Posted in: Eye Care

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