Eye Floaters

1 What are Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters are spots in your vision. They usually appear as black or grey specks, strings or cobwebs that drift when the eyes move about and seem to drift away when you try to focus on them.

The cause is usually related to age since as you age the vitreous humor ( jelly-like fluid within the eye) becomes more liquid. The tiny shadows that appear on the retina are caused by the clumping of small fibers within the vitreous humor.

They usually don't require treatment, although they may become less noticable with time in some individuals.

Some eye floater which are accompanied by flashes of light or a loss of side vision require immediate medical attention.

2 Symptoms

If you have eye floaters, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Spots in your vision that appear as dark specks
  • Transparent strings of floating material
  • Spots that move each time you move your eyes
  • Spots that are most noticable when you look at a plain bright background like the sky and spots that eventually settle down and drift out of the line of vision
  • Pain in the eye is usually present in severe cases

3 Causes

The most common cause of eye floaters is age related.

As you age, the vitreous humor in the eye that is usually jelly like and performs the function of maintaining the normal round shape of the eye becomes more liquid. This causes the it to pull away from the eyeball's internal surface.

Also as you age, the vitreous humor shrinks and clumps to form debris that prevent light from reaching the retina. The debris is as a result of an increase in the small flecks of protein called collagen.

Some of the other causes include:

  • Inflammatory processes of th eye, especially those that affect the back of the eye like posterior uveitis,
  • Bleeding within the eye due to injury of blood vessels and a torn retina.

The retina can be torn if a sagging vitreous tugs on it with a lot of force. Without treatment, retinal tear can lead to permanent loss of vision.

4 Making a Diagnosis

To diagnose eye floaters, a doctor will have to perform a complete eye examination.

Dilation of eyeballs is necessary as it helps the doctor to view the back of your eyes better.

5 Treatment

Eye floaters do not require treatment in most cases.

However, if they bacome severe, they may require treatment.

Some of the treatments available include: using a laser to destroy the floaters and having a sugical procedure in which the vitreous is removed.

A solution is usually inserted into the eye to help in maintaining the structure of the eyeball after removal of the vitreous.

Bleeding and retinal tears are some of the complications associated with surgical removal of the vitreous.

6 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with eye floaters.

The following factors can increase your risk of developing eye floaters:

  • Being over 50
  • Being nearsighted
  • Eye trauma
  • Complications from eye surgeries
  • Having diabetes mellitus which is usually accompanied by diabetic retinopathy if it is not treated and various inflammatory processes of the eye

The complications of eye floaters like retinal detachment, retinal tears and cataracts usually occur due to surgical removal of the vitreous.

Another complication is permanent blindness which usually occur due to retinal tears.

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