On bright or sunny days, you may notice that when you look at the bright blue sky, squiggly little spots appear in your field of vision. If you try to focus on them or watch them, they scatter away. These are called vitreous floaters, or eye floaters. They are generally harmless, but in some cases, a call to your eye professional is important.
What are they?
The back part of the eye is filled with a gel-like substance; the vitreous humor. This, over time, can start to clump together, causing small shadows on the retina. Floaters are made of collagen, a protein we all have in our bodies. The floater can take different shapes including thread like-strands, cobwebs, or ring shapes. They can be black or gray.
Who is most at risk for floaters?
- Those between the ages of 50-75
- Nearsighted individuals
- Those who have had eye surgery, such as cataract surgery
- People who have sustained an eye injury
When should floaters be a cause for concern?
If you experience the following symptoms, call your eye care professional immediately:
- A sudden, rapid increase in the number of floaters you see
- Flashes of light
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Any vision loss
- Pain in the eyes
The symptoms described above could be signs of retinal detachment which is a serious eye condition that could potentially cause permanent loss of vision.
Is there a treatment for floaters?
Most people ignore floaters, and they tend to improve over time but they don’t always go away. There is a surgical option, but the risk of surgery outweighs the nuisance of this mostly harmless condition. If you are not sure, call your eye professional for advice.