Do you ever notice dots and lines in your field of vision? Perhaps you notice flashes of light, but there is no discernible cause for them? Don’t panic, these are fairly common ocular occurrences known as eye floaters and they are usually harmless. Nevertheless, they can be irritating or in severe cases, have a significant impact upon your vision.
Here is what you need to know about this condition and what you can do to get rid of those pesky eye floaters.
What causes eye floaters?
Is it not always known exactly what causes someone to experience eye floaters. However, they do tend to become more common the older we get and this is believed to be a result of an innocent process known as posterior vitreous detachment or PVD which is an age-related condition. PVD is characterized by natural changes to the vitreous gel that takes up space inside the eye. As your eyes get older, the vitreous jelly inside deteriorates and forms clumps of gel. It is these that we see when we see floaters.
Other known causes include:
Frequent headaches or migraines
Some types of medication
Previous surgery to the eyes
Retinal Detachment – In rarer cases, the retina, which is the thin layer that transmits signals to the brain from the eye, pulls away from the back of the eye. Without prompt treatment, retinal detachment can lead to permanent sight loss.
What can I do to get rid of eye floaters?
There are several different things that you can do to help eliminate floaters that are compromising your vision and make them less noticeable or remove them entirely.
The first is to ignore them as much as possible. In nearly all instances, the floaters will fade and disappear on their own. If you ignore them you can also train your brain to adapt to seeing around them as such, so they become virtually unnoticeable. However, if you simply cannot ignore them any longer, you may wish to consider a procedure known as a vitrectomy.
A vitrectomy is a form of invasive eye surgery which involves removing the natural vitreous liquid inside your eye and replacing it with an artificial solution that will help to maintain the shape of your eye while your body makes new vitreous gel. Although very effective, there is still the chance that further floaters could form in the future.
Finally, you could look into the possibility of laser therapy. This process is still in the experimental stages and involves using laser technology to break up the floaters so that they are less disruptive to your vision. However, the effectiveness of the procedure is still debatable at this time.
When should I seek professional assistance for my eye floaters?
Although floaters are nearly always harmless, there are some instances in which you should make an urgent appointment with your ophthalmologist. These include if:
Floaters or flashes appear very suddenly
The number of floaters or flashes you see increases suddenly or significantly
You have a shadow or dark curtain moving across your vision
You have blurred vision
You have eye pain
Your floaters start after eye surgery or an eye injury
In rare cases these could indicate that there is a problem with the back of your eye which must be treated quickly.
If you are suffering from eye floaters and would like the advice of an experienced and trained professional, our ophthalmologist, Dr. Goel would be delighted to meet with you to discuss your concerns. Please contact our offices today to schedule your consultation.