Family Health

What are eye floaters?

Written by andy

Find out everything you need to know about those spots!

Have you ever tried to look out of the corners of your eye and noticed there are little spots floating there? Or press your fingers to your closed eyelids, and you’ll see black spots dancing across your vision.  The human eye is a curious, delicate mechanism, so many people worry that those little spots–or “eye floaters”–can be a serious problem. But what are eye floaters anyway?

The truth is that eye floaters can actually be a BAD thing! They’re not just your mind or eyes playing tricks on you, but they are actually caused by changes inside the vitreous (the jelly-like substance) inside your eye. As you age, the jelly becomes more and more liquid, and tiny fibers inside the vitreous clump together. This can actually cast a shadow on your retina, and that show is what you are seeing as the “eye floaters”.

Eye floaters come in all shapes and sizes:

  • Some look like dark specks or transparent, knobby strings that float around in your vision
  • Some are very noticeable when you look at a bright blue sky, a white wall, or any bright background
  • Some move around when you move your eyes. They always stay outside your visual field, but they’re always there in the corner of your field of view.
  • Some just drift around for a bit, then settle down and drift away.

There are a certain amount of eye floaters to be expected. After all, age is a part of life, and the human body (like all things) tends to decay with the passage of time. Your job is, of course, to protect your eyes by eating Vitamin A foods, wearing sunglasses to protect from UV light, and reducing eye strain. However, no matter what you do, there is a certain amount of wear and tear to be expected.

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But what do you do if the eye floaters are appearing a lot more often, and they are much more visible? It may be time to contact your eye doctor!

There are a few signs that the problem may be getting worse:

  • The eye floaters are multiplying, and they are more visible than usual
  • There is a sudden onset of new ones all at once
  • You begin to lose the periphery of your vision, and all you can see is darkness at the edge of your vision
  • You see unexplained flashes or pulses of light

All of these things are symptoms of more serious eye problems. Though they are painless, they may indicate that there is something wrong with your eye. Specifically, retinal detachment, a problem that can be threatening if not treated immediately.

The good news is that your doctor will usually be able to deal with the problem by dealing with whatever is causing the floaters to appear. There is usually an underlying cause behind the eye floaters, and treating the issue may make the floaters go away.

However, you may have to adjust to life with the eye floaters. If the damage is permanent or your eyes have begun to degenerate, there may be nothing they can do to deal with the floaters. They may recommend laser surgery (which disrupts the floaters by breaking up the clumped-together fibers), or the doctor may actually remove the vitreous altogether. They will then replace it with a liquid solution that will help your eye to maintain its shape and function. It’s important to understand that the floaters may never fully disappear, so you may have to get used to seeing them all the time.

 

About the author

andy

Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise--he does so six days a week--and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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