Eye Floaters

3 July 2024

The adult aging process can include many phases, some of which are innocuous. One of those are floaters in our vision.

Eye floaters are shapes that move across the field of vision. Sometimes they are squiggles, dots, or lines. They move in and out and while, they are somewhat distracting, they are quite common. If you try to look at them, they seem to dart away. Usually you will notice floaters in only one eye at a time.

Symptoms are:

  • Small shapes that can be stringy like worms, dark spots, or even knobby. Sometimes they are blobs or rings. If you try to look at them, they will disappear. They will eventually simply move out of your line of sight.
  • Generally they seem to be gray or black dots.
  • They are most prevalent when you look at bright background, like the sky or a television set.

eye floaters

The eye contains a clear substance called the vitreous fluid that is inside the eyeball. Sometimes pieces of protein will drift through and cause shadows on the retina and we call them floaters. Aging makes the vitreous more liquid and less gelatinous. As this happens the fluid pulls away slightly from the back of the eye and cause the formation of these floaters.

These will start appearing between the ages of 50 and 70. Your eyes age at different rates so you may have floaters in one eye but not another. The factors that contribute to floaters include:

  • The aging process
  • Family history of retinal problems
  • Nearsighted people are more likely to have floaters
  • Uveitis, which is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye (uvea). This is very rare.

With your annual eye exam, mention this to your doctor, but in general don’t worry about it too much. They will probably ask some questions so you should be prepared with information like:

  • When you first noticed them.
  • What do they look like and how many are there at a time?
  • How often do they occur?
  • Have you had any eye surgeries or injuries?
  • Any conditions or illnesses like an autoimmune condition or diabetes.
  • Family history of eye disease, especially retinal problems.

Check in with your vision team if:

  • An unusual increase in floaters
  • Flashes of light in that same eye
  • An area that is suddenly blurry or part of your vision is blocked
  • Darkness or loss of peripheral vision

If you see flashes of light or vision loss, this will require immediate attention. You should call your eye doctor at once to rule out a problem with the retina. Delay could result in permanent vision loss.

It is rare, but the floaters could become so dense that you have some problems seeing. This is another time you need to contact your eye doctor to determine the best course of action for you. There are options that you can discuss to make an informed decision.

An ophthalmologist will be able to look at the back of your eye to see if there is any damage or to confirm that these are just annoying floaters.

However, there are times when seeing objects in your vision are a sign of more serious problems like:

  • Inflammation or infection
  • Bleeding, sometimes caused by an injury or consequences of diabetes
  • Following optic surgery, including cataracts
  • Torn or detached retina, which is extremely serious since it can cause permanent damage and is an emergency situation.

Generally floaters are an annoyance that we become used to but don’t become complacent if things seem different.

Finger Lakes Events

See Your Business Here!

For more information on our listings, advertising, coupons, and mailers, please contact us today!