They may be spots, strings, specks, or webs, tiny and drifting particles called floaters that resist your efforts to look at them directly, darting away from your central vision. It’s normal to have some level of eye floaters; their existence is usually not a concern.
Sometimes, though, you might experience an increase in the number or size of floaters, and they may be accompanied by other visual symptoms. This could be because of a more serious eye problem, and their existence is a good reason to make an appointment with IC Laser Eye Care to rule out threats to your vision.
Most floaters are clumps of collagen floating in the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills your eye. These clumps cause tiny shadows on your retina, creating the varied shapes you recognize as eye floaters.
It’s normal to have some floaters, and as you get older it’s also normal that their numbers will increase. Like other systems in your body, the vitreous dries somewhat and loses volume. The process is usually gradual. Generally, they won’t interfere with your vision.
Floaters only become a concern when they suddenly increase in number in one or both eyes, or when they’re accompanied by other visual disturbances like light flashes, curtain-like vision blockages, or peripheral vision loss. We provide emergency eye care services at IC Laser Eye Care, so contact us as soon as you notice these symptoms.
Age-related changes are perhaps the most common reason for floaters and their gradual increase. The vitreous changes over time, becoming less gel-like and more liquid. There’s often an accompanying increase in collagen clumps, creating more floaters.
There are 4 other conditions that can add to the floater load. You may need treatment for your eyes, have an underlying condition, or both.
There could be many reasons why blood escapes into the vitreous, including detachments and tears of the retina. Changes to blood vessels due to diabetes can also cause bleeding, as can an injury, high blood pressure, or other blood vessel irregularities. Blood cells cast the shadows you see as floaters in the same way as strings of collagen.
Eye treatments include injections into the vitreous, which can introduce air bubbles, and some surgeries use silicone oil bubbles. Both of these can be seen as floaters.
Shrinking vitreous can exert enough of a pull on the retina to cause tearing. This can lead to retinal detachment, a cause of blindness, if it’s not treated. Once a tear occurs, fluid can enter behind the retina, causing the detachment.
Uveitis causes inflammation of tissue in the wall of the eye. When it affects the rear of the eye, called posterior uveitis, it affects the retina, too. Inflammation here creates additional floaters. Autoimmune disorders, infections, or inflammatory diseases can cause uveitis.
If you notice a change in the number or appearance of your eye floaters, schedule a visit with the nearest IC Laser Eye Care location to be sure your vision is safe. We have offices in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania, as well as Hamilton, New Jersey. You can reach your preferred office online or by phone. Book your appointment now.