When Should I Worry About Eye Floaters?

When Should I Worry About Eye Floaters?

It’s easy to think, when you spot eye floaters moving around in your field of vision, that these might be tiny bits of debris suspended in the tear layer covering your eyes. However, they don’t originate there at all. The images you perceive as floaters are most often the shadows of protein clumps inside your eyes. 

The gel-like vitreous humor that helps your eye maintain its shape breaks down as you get older, and many floaters are simply a harmless reminder of the passage of time. In fact, most floaters are benign and of little concern. This isn’t always the case though, and there are times when you should worry about eye floaters. 

For this or any other concern about your sight, visit IC Laser Eye Care. Our ophthalmologists stay on top of the latest research and techniques to provide you with leading-edge vision care. We’ve prepared this primer so you can better understand floaters. 

Why do we see floaters? 

Once you spot eye floaters, you become aware of their unusual behavior. They often surround your central vision, but when you move your eyes to focus on them, floaters seem to shyly move aside, close to but never in the middle of your sight. 

Some floaters seem to be sharply defined and in focus, while others have softer edges. The clumps of protein and other substances that create floaters block light and create shadows on your retina. Some clumps may be floating close to the retina surface. Variations in appearance depend on where within your eyeball the clumped material is when you see it as a floater. 

Floaters occur for reasons other than simply aging. Serious eye conditions can, in rare cases, create floaters. These conditions include: 

Floaters can also be symptoms of medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, or stroke. 

When should I worry about eye floaters? 

Eye floaters themselves are usually not a cause for concern. However, a sudden change in eye floaters may indicate that you need ophthalmologic care. Check in with us if you experience conditions like: 

Your floater concern is more urgent if it’s accompanied by symptoms such as: 

Treat floaters as a medical emergency when you have changes in your sight or when they’re accompanied by pain. Retina tears and detachment can threaten your vision. 

At IC Laser Eye Care, we specialize in diagnosing and treating floaters. Call or click today to schedule an eye exam with any of our three offices — in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey. 

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