If you’ve ever thought about the insides of your eyeballs, you likely won’t be surprised to find that they’re filled with a gel-like substance. It’s called vitreous humor. Ideally, it would be perfectly transparent so that it had little effect on your vision. However, composed of mostly water, proteins like collagen, and assorted salts and sugars, the vitreous humor is a bit of a biological soup that maintains and protects the shape of your eye.
When you start to notice spots that seem to float around your field of vision, you’re seeing a phenomenon called floaters. These can be any of a number of things that are indeed floating in the vitreous humor. Are these a cause for concern? That’s a question for your ophthalmologist.
At IC Laser Eye Care, we’re experts in evaluating floaters and recommending treatment plans when necessary. In many cases, eye floaters are natural, normal, and no cause for concern. In less common situations, they could be a warning symptom of a more serious eye condition. Here’s what you need to know about those black spots you keep seeing.
What are eye floaters?
There are many reasons you might develop floaters.
One of the most common reasons for floaters is time. The vitreous changes as you get older, becoming less viscous and starting to pull away from the sides of your eyeballs as it contracts. Collagen fibers start to form as part of this process. They can distort light passing through your eyes, casting shadows on your retina, the image-forming structure on the back surfaces of your eyes.
Floaters may also result from inflammation at the back of your eye, a condition called posterior uveitis. This results from infections, autoimmune disorders, or inflammatory diseases.
One of the most serious conditions causing floaters, an untreated retinal tear can lead to permanent vision loss. This can result when contracting vitreous pulls the retina away from the back of your eye. It may also happen as a result of an eye injury.
Some surgeries use silicone oil bubbles as part of the procedure. These can form floaters. Some medications are injected directly into the vitreous. This can cause temporary floaters in the form of air bubbles that will later reabsorb and vanish.
Blood leaking from retinal tears, injuries, or blood vessel issues caused by diabetes or high blood pressure can cause floaters. Blood cells moving through the vitreous cast shadows on the retina.
Floaters become an urgent concern if you notice a sudden increase in the number of floaters you see, or if the floaters are accompanied by flashes of light in the same eye. Peripheral vision loss, blurry areas, or the impression of a gray curtain blocking part of your vision is also a reason to seek immediate medical care.
Contact IC Laser Eye Care when you’re concerned with eye floaters or any other aspect of your vision. We have locations in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey. Call us or book an appointment online to schedule your eye exam today.