People use the term “eye floaters” to talk about cobwebs, spots, or strands that float around in the field of vision when they look around. You notice this clearly when you look at something white (like a white paper). Though they may be annoying, eye floaters aren’t a cause for alarm as they are harmless.
You notice that you’ve got eye floaters if the vitreous substance that fills the eye begins to shrink, thereby casting a shadow on the retina.
Eye floaters are associated with age, and they are no cause for panic. However, floaters turn to be an emergency condition which needs the immediate attention of an eye specialist when they are accompanied by flashes of light or loss of the peripheral vision (side vision).
Causes of Eye Floaters
Throughout our youthful era, the vitreous has a gel-like uniformity in the retina. But as we get older and older, it starts to liquefy so as to create a watery center. This condition is mostly associated with people between 50-70 years of age. However, you aren’t on the safer side of the matter if you have a history of nearsightedness or cataract surgery. Apart from these, there are other causes of floaters in the eyes, which include eye tumors and bleeding in the vitreous.
Serious conditions that give rise to eye floaters include:
Eye diseases: These are reasons some individuals develop floaters in the eyes. When you are struck with an eye disease, you may gradually develop floaters.
Injury in the eye: If you experience pains in the eyes due to someone hitting you in your head, which will shake the position of the vitreous gel, or you experience damage from an accident, there is a possibility of developing eye floaters.
Diabetic Retinopathy: Patients who suffer from diabetic retinopathy can also find these annoying cobwebs in their eyes.
Detached Retina: This is a disorder in which the retina separates from the back of the eye. It may be accompanied by a number of floaters or flashes of light.
Inflammation: Posterior uveitis is a leading cause of serious floaters in the eyes. Posterior uveitis (also known as choroiditis) is the inflammation of the choroid- the back part of the uvea. This may lead to permanent loss of sight if left untreated. While the exact cause of this inflammation is not well-known, the chances of getting infected with posterior uveitis may be traced to juvenile arthritis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory disorder.
Torn Retina: The gel-like substance (vitreous) wrenches hard to tear the retina into different places. If the problem is left without proper treatment, it will lead to retinal detachment, a condition in which the watery vitreous accumulates in the retina which forces it to separate from the back of the eye. If a retinal detachment is left untreated, it leads to permanent loss of sight.
Treatment for Eye Floaters
In many cases, floaters do not need treatment as they go away by themselves. This is what your doctor will tell you after carefully examining your eyes. However, you will undergo some treatment if you develop some serious floaters that may pose a threat to your health. If the floaters become numerous and annoying so much so that you have difficulty seeing objects, your eye specialist will advise that you undergo some laser treatment or surgery.
The Laser Treatment to remove Floaters: This treatment is made possible by a qualified ophthalmologist who uses a special device (laser) to break up the floaters and make them less noticeable by the patient. While some who underwent this treatment reports that they’ve had improvement, others, however, say that their condition still remains the same. This is because they were not treated properly and it could even lead to damage of the retina. Therefore, ensure that your doctor (ophthalmologist) is qualified enough.
Surgery: Another option to treat your floaters is the replacement of the vitreous with a salt solution during a surgery called vitrectomy. Vitrectomy aims at maintaining the natural shape of the eye but it’s not the best option as it does not remove all the floaters in the eye, neither does it prevent more floaters from occurring.
Prevention of More Serious Problems
Virtually every eye floaters are a result of the aging process. So it’s impossible to prevent them. However, you can help maintain eye floaters by not allowing them to result into a more complicating issue, like retinal detachment. Therefore, if you begin noticing floaters in your eyes, you are best advised to see a qualified ophthalmologist who will examine your eye to check if they occur as a result of serious health problems or inflammation or if possible, they will lead to other convoluted health issues that could lead to vision blindness.