What You Need to Know About Eye “Floaters”

What are floaters?  Have you noticed little spots or string-like shapes in your vision that tend to move around when you try to focus on them? Perhaps they are more pronounced when you look at something bright, like the sky? If so, you could be experiencing a vision issue known as eye “floaters.” While floaters can be an annoying distraction, they often simply pop up as part of the normal aging process. Some, however, can be a sign of a serious eye condition. If you discover one in your field of vision, you should see your eye doctor right away to rule out any vision-threatening issues.

 What Are Floaters?

They get their name from the fact that they seem to move and drift around the eye. When you try to focus on one, you may find it shifts away. The “floater” itself is actually vitreous, a gelatinous-like substance in the eye. Over time, the vitreous can thin out, shrink, and break away from the retina into stringy fragments. These fragments explain why floaters appear as various shapes. Common floaters look like strings, dots, spots, rings and even cobwebs.

Are Floaters a Serious Problem?

Many people develop them as a part of the natural aging process. In addition, they can appear due to stress or injury. However, in some instances, they may be a symptom of much more serious eye conditions such as retinal detachment or hemorrhaging. Be sure to visit your eye doctor right away if you notice a sudden increase in the number of floaters you have, if you start to see flashes of light, or if you notice dark areas in your peripheral vision.

Are Floaters Permanent?

Depending on the root cause, many will get smaller and eventually go away on their own or at least settle out of the field of vision. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. In cases where it does not disappear, people often adapt to “seeing” the floater and it no longer poses a serious problem. In extreme cases, where vision is impaired, surgical options are available.

The first step in evaluating your floaters is to make an appointment with Family Vision Development Center in Aurora. Our highly-trained staff will perform a thorough eye exam and take time to answer any questions you may have about your eye issues. Call us at 630-862-2020 to schedule an appointment or use our convenient online appointment request form.


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