What Causes Floaters?

It’s common to think that eye floaters have a life of their own. When you notice one and try to hold it in focus, it seems to dart away as though it knows your intention to spot it. If it feels as though you’re chasing shadows, you’re not far from the mark. 

Virtually everyone develops floaters at some point, usually as a natural part of aging. Floaters typically result from tiny strands of collagen floating in the gel-like liquid within your eyes, casting shadows on the retina. You can’t bring them into your central vision since the strand causing the shadow moves along with your eye. 

There are rare occasions when floaters indicate serious eye problems. If you notice a quick increase in the number of floaters you see or if they’re accompanied by other eye symptoms, contact our team at IC Laser Eye Care for an examination to rule out dangerous eye issues.

What are floaters? 

You may see specks, swirls, strings, or dark or light spots that move as your eyes do. You may not notice these in most situations, but when you’re looking at a bright, plain background — like a light-colored wall or a smooth blue sky — you might be surprised at the number of floaters you detect. They move with the delayed, floating motion that gives them their name. 

In most cases, floaters increase as you age. As with other body tissue, the vitreous gel that fills your eyes deteriorates. Clumps of collagen form, creating the various shapes you detect by blocking light from reaching your retina normally. 

Treating age-related floaters

The good news is that in most cases you’ll need no treatment for floaters. If there are a few that you find annoying, you can often force them out of your central vision by simply moving your eyeballs. 

Up and down motions of the eyes usually work better than side-to-side movement, but try both. The vitreous gel shifts, taking the floaters with them. 

Some people have so many floaters that their vision is blocked, but this is rare. In that case, the vitreous gel can be replaced with a saline solution in a procedure called a vitrectomy

Serious eye conditions

Though it’s rare, floaters can be symptoms of other eye conditions. These may have more serious consequences on your vision. Some of these include: 

If you have a sudden increase in the number of floaters you see, accompanied by flashes of light in the same eye or dark areas on any periphery of your vision, consult our eye specialists immediately. These could be symptoms of a retinal tear. 

Chances are that your eye floaters are no cause for concern, but we can help put your mind at ease. Contact us at one of our three locations in Bensalem and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey, by phone or online to schedule an eye exam today.

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