Retinal Floaters: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment And Prevention
If you have dot or specks that move away when you try to look at them directly in your field of vision, chances are high you have retinal floaters. Retinal floaters are clusters of clogged protein cells in the vitreous humor. They appear as black or gray lines and dots in your vision. However, what you see are not the floaters but the shadow they cast on your retina.
They seem to move with your eyes since they are inside the fluid of your eyes. They mostly appear when you stare at a bright and plain surface. If the floaters have grown larger, they often cast a shadow over your vision when you are under certain types of light and cause some discomfort. According to eye experts, Floaters can affect one of your eyes or both. They are not painful but they may irritate or annoy you. However, they can get worse and require treatment.
Symptoms of Retinal Floaters
Since floaters are not painful, they may not interfere with your vision. However, if they grow larger or increase, it is important to visit an eye doctor. Here are common eye floaters symptoms that you should watch out for:
- Noticeable spots when you look at plain surfaces such as white walls
- Spots in your field of vision that float away when you try to look at them directly
- Dark specs or gray lines in your field of vision
- Small shapes that appear like cobwebs or rings
Retinal floaters are mainly caused by the aging process. As we age, the vitreous which fills our eyeballs and keep them in its round shape is altered. As the age progresses further, the vitreous begins to shrink and liquefy. This causes it to detach from the interior surface of the eyeball. As it continues to shrink more, it clogs and become stringy. The stringy masses tend to block the light passing through the eye onto your retina. This causes a shadow to be cast on your retina which appears on your field of vision as floaters.
Aside from the aging process, eye floaters can result from the following conditions:
- Eye medications: Floaters can occur as a result of certain eye medications injected into the vitreous. Occasionally, these injections cause air bubbles to form in your vitreous. The bubbles block the light passing through your eyes and cause floaters until they are fully absorbed into your eye.
- Eye injuries: If your eye is injured accidentally; it can lead to experiencing increased floaters.
- Inflammation of the eye: Infections often leads to swelling and inflammation of your eye. This causes floaters. Additionally, many people often experience inflammation in the layers of the back of their eyes caused by infection, diseases, or eye conditions. This leads to the formation of debris in the vitreous which causes floaters.
- Trauma or tearing of the retina: Torn retina often leads to permanent loss of vision. It is caused by the retinal detachment which results from vitreous sagging that pulls the retina hence tearing it. Additionally, trauma on the retina as a result of injury leads to experiencing eye floaters.
- Diabetic retinopathy: Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina. This causes several vision challenges including retinal floaters.
Risk factors for Retinal floaters
There certain risk factors that increase the chances of developing retinal floaters. They include the following:
- Developing eye inflammation as a result of infections
- Eye injuries
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Aging process
When should I Consider Floaters as an Emergency?
However, you should consider retinal floaters as an emergency if:
- You develop floaters after an injury or eye surgery
- Floaters increase or change in size and shape
- If it has affected your peripheral vision
- You experience flashes of light
- You experience some pain in your affected eye
Treatment of Retinal Floaters
The common treatment under such a condition is a vitrectomy. Vitrectomy involves surgical removal of the vitreous gel that is causing the floaters. The removed vitreous gel is then replaced with a saline solution.
Alternatively, the eye doctor may recommend laser treatment. This involves breaking the bigger floaters to make them less noticeable. The doctor will keenly examine your eyes to see if you need either of the above treatment before they recommend the best alternative.
Eye floaters are mainly consequent of the natural aging process. However, if you are below 60 years, you should see ensure the doctor checks your eyes to rule out other serious eye conditions that can cause floaters. While it may not be possible to prevent Retinal floaters, it is recommended that you put into consideration practices that keep your eyes healthy. These include:
- Wearing protective eyewear after any eye surgery
- Quitting drinking alcohol and smoking
- Balancing your daily diet
- Visiting eye specialist in case of eye injuries
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
Floaters can be irritating but in most cases, they do not threaten your vision. If they are not caused by retinal damage or any other serious condition, they will disappear or become less noticeable. However, if they are a sign of a serious eye problem, you will need urgent medical treatment.