Eye floaters are tiny specks that can be seen in your field of vision. They may look like black or gray dots, strings, or cobwebs. Floaters can also be clear. Most eye floaters are harmless and don’t need treatment. However, if you have a sudden increase in floaters or flashes of light, you should see an eye doctor right away. These could be signs of a serious problem with the retina (the back part of the eye).
What causes eye floaters?
Age-related changes to the eye are the most common cause of eye floaters. The vitreous, or jelly-like substance, inside your eyes starts to shrink as you age. This causes clumps of gel to form and float around in your field of vision.
Floaters are usually harmless and don’t require treatment. However, if you suddenly develop a large number of floaters or flashing lights, it could be a sign of a retinal detachment. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
When are eye floaters an emergency?
Most people have floaters — those tiny specks or strands that seem to drift across your field of vision. They may be annoying, but they’re usually harmless.
But sometimes, floaters can be a sign of a serious problem with your eye. If you have new floaters or sudden changes in your existing floaters, it’s important to see an ophthalmologist or other eye care provider right away. Floaters are usually caused by bits of debris that float in the gel-like fluid (vitreous) that fills your eyeball. When you look at something, the floaters move out of the way and seem to disappear. Most of the time, these bits of debris are harmless and don’t require treatment.
When are eye floaters an emergency?
Eye floaters are usually not an emergency, but there are some situations when they can be a sign of a more serious problem. If you notice a sudden increase in floaters, or if you see flashes of light or black spots, you should see an eye doctor right away. These could be signs of vitreous detachment, which is when the gel-like substance that fills the inside of your eye starts to pull away from the retina. Vitreous detachment is usually not a serious condition, but it can lead to vision problems if it’s not treated.
Vitreous detachment is a condition in which the vitreous, or jelly-like substance that fills the inside of the eye, pulls away from the retina. Although this can occur at any age, it is most common in people over age 50.
Symptoms of vitreous detachment include floaters (tiny specks that appear in your field of vision) and flashes of light. Floaters are caused by clumps of gel or cells in the vitreous detach from the retina and float around in the eye. Flashes are usually caused by traction on the retina when the vitreous pulls away. Most vitreous detachments are harmless and do not require treatment.
A vitreous hemorrhage is a condition in which bleeding occurs within the eye. This can occur for a variety of reasons, such as trauma to the eye, diabetic retinopathy, or age-related changes in the blood vessels. Vitreous hemorrhages can range from mild to severe, and can sometimes lead to vision loss. Treatment typically involves addressing the underlying cause of the bleeding, and may include surgery to repair damaged blood vessels.
A retinal tear is a serious condition that can lead to permanent vision loss. If you experience flashes of light or floaters in your vision, it’s important to see an eye doctor right away. A retinal tear occurs when the retina, the thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye, is separated from the underlying layer of blood vessels and nerve cells. This can happen if the retina is stretched or pulled too hard.
If left untreated, a retinal tear can lead to a detached retina. A detached retina is when the retina is completely separated from the back of the eye. This is a medical emergency and can cause permanent vision loss.
How are eye floaters treated?
Eye floaters are spots in your vision that seem to drift through your field of vision. They may look to you like black or gray specks, strings, or cobwebs. Most eye floaters don’t need any type of treatment. The brain adjusts to the new shapes and eventually ignores them. If floaters are large and obstruct your vision, several options are available to remove them. You may also find an article about see yellow spots in eyes on our website.
What happens if eye floaters are not treated?
Eye floaters are usually not painful and do not cause any serious medical problems. However, if you have significant floaters or suddenly develop new floaters, you should see your doctor. While most eye floaters are simply a nuisance, some can indicate more serious problems such as retinal detachment. If you experience new floaters or flashes of light, you should contact your doctor immediately as these could be signs of retinal detachment.
How can you prevent eye floaters?
Most eye floaters occur as part of the natural aging process and are harmless. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent them.
Wear sunglasses when outdoors to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light can damage the collagen in your eyes, which can lead to floaters. Make sure you eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of leafy green vegetables. These vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that can help protect your eyes from damage. Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing floaters.
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