Eye Floaters, Spots
Eye floaters are what eye care specialists call spots in your vision. If you have eye floaters, they may look like gray or black specks, cobwebs or specs that drift around when you move your eye. The spots appear to drift away when you look at them directly. People with floaters in the eye describe them as seeing spots, black spots, flashes of light in the eye or eye flashes.
Eye floaters typically appear as you age. They’re caused by the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers floating in the vitreous tend to clump and can create shadows on your retina, which appear to you as floaters. Think of it as the particles in the air that you see when watching a film projection or slideshow.
Contact your eye care professional immediately if you notice a sudden increase in eye floaters. This can be a symptom of a more serious issue that requires prompt attention.
Causes of Eye Floaters
There are several common causes of eye floaters, including:
- Age: Changes in your eyes related to age can result in eye floaters in the This jelly-like substance helps maintain the round shape of your eyeball. Over time, this substance becomes more liquid, which causes a deterioration of the interior surface of the eyeball. Microscopic fibers break off and float in the vitreous. The vitreous itself also can clump and get stringy. When light hits these clumps, it casts a shadow on the back of the eye, where the retina creates the eye floater effect in your vision.
- Torn retina: A sagging vitreous can tug on your retina with enough force to tear it. If untreated, this can lead to retinal detachment, separating it from the back of your eye, which can lead to permanent vision loss.
- Bleeding: An injury to your eye or blood vessel problems can create bleeding in the vitreous, which can cause eye floaters.
- Inflammation: Posterior uveitis is inflammation in the layers of the back of the eye, called the uvea. The inflammation of these layers can cause eye floaters. Typically, infection or inflammatory diseases causes posterior uveitis.
Symptoms of Eye Floaters
There are many symptoms related to eye floaters. Some of these include:
- Specs in your vision that appear as dark spots, transparent rings, knobby particles or translucent strings of floating particles
- Spots that drift when you move your eyes or dart out of your visual field when you try to look at them
- Discolored spots that appear when looking at a plain background such as a white wall or blue sky
- Drifting spots that eventually settle or drift out of the line of sight
You should make an appointment with your ophthalmologist if you notice more eye floaters than usual, or if you have a sudden appearance of new floaters. Also, if you see flashes of light or darkness in your peripheral vision (on the sides of your eyes), it can be a sign of vision loss. You should see an ophthalmologist immediately.
Even though these symptoms typically are painless, they can be an indicator of a retinal tear, which is sight-threatening. You should seek immediate attention. The following factors can increase the risk of eye floaters:
- Eye trauma
- Complications resulting from cataract surgery
- Age over 50
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Eye inflammation
- Nearsightedness (also called myopia)
Diagnosis of Eye Floaters
If these symptoms are present, make an appointment with your eye doctor for testing. If additional symptoms are present that require immediate treatment, contact an ophthalmologist. Following these steps before you visit an eye care professional can help you on your visit:
- Write your symptoms down. Think of past situations that caused an increase of eye floaters and write down the circumstances. Also make a note of times when you had a decrease in the number of eye floaters.
- List your medications. Prepare a list of all prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements that you’re taking.
- Ask questions. It’s easy to forget questions when you’re at the office of your eye care professional. Write them down so you can make sure to ask your eye doctor.
Questions for the Eye Doctor
Common questions to ask relating to eye floaters:
- Why am I seeing these eye floaters?
- Will I always have eye floaters? Do they ever go away?
- Is there anything I can do to prevent eye floaters from occurring?
- What are the treatments for eye floaters?
- Do you have any literature about eye floaters or do you recommend any websites?
- Will I need a follow-up appointment? And if so, when?
Questions from Your Doctor
Here are some questions your eye doctor may ask you, included here to help you prepare for your visit:
- When did you first notice your eye floaters?
- Are your symptoms continuous or occasional? Do you always experience them or just once in a while?
- Have you noticed any new floaters recently?
- Do you see light flashes?
- Do any activities seem to make your eye floaters better or worse?
- Do you have a history of eye issues, or have you had eye surgery?
- Do you have diabetes or any other medical issues like high blood pressure?
Treatment for Eye Floaters
Having eye floaters can be irritating and frustrating. In minor cases that don’t impair your vision, you may be able to ignore them or notice them less often. For eye floaters that impair your vision, which is rare, you may consider the following treatment options in consultation with your ophthalmologist:
- Laser treatment: An ophthalmologist may use a special laser, aiming it at the floaters in the vitreous, which can break them up and make them less visible. Laser treatment has mixed results; some report improved treatment, others claim it made little or no difference. There is risk involved with the laser accidentally striking your retina. For this reason, laser treatment is used sparingly for floaters.
- Vitreous Surgery: An ophthalmologist surgically removes the vitreous and replaces it with a solution that maintains the shape of your eye. Surgery isn’t guaranteed to remove all of the floaters, and new floaters can develop after the surgery. This surgery is called vitrectomy, and there are risks of bleeding and retinal tears associated with it.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult eye doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified eye doctor can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Eye Floaters, Flashes or Spots? Would like to schedule an appointment with Midtown Ophthalmologist NYC or Optometrist, Dr. Saba Khodadadian of Manhattan Eye Specialists, please contact our office for consultation with NYC Eye doctor.
Dr. Saba Khodadadian, Optometrist (NYC Eye Doctor)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4821