What are Eye Floaters?
Dr. Leslie Ravi Kumar
Kalyan nagar, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
They look like small specks, dots, circles, lines or cobwebs within the field of vision. They seem to be in front of the eye but they are floating inside. They are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous (the material that fills the posterior part of the eye). Floaters are generally noticed when looking at something plain, like a blank wall or a blue sky. Eye floaters may be present in only one eye or both eyes. They typically appear when tiny pieces of the eye’s gel-like vitreous break loose within the inner back portion of the eye.
The Larger floater can cast a slight shadow over vision, but this tends to happen only in certain types of light. Throughout our youth, the vitreous has a gel-like consistency but as we grow the vitreous begins to dissolve and liquefy to create a watery center. Some undissolved gel particles will float around in the more liquid center of the vitreous. These particles can take on many shapes and sizes which are referred to as “eye floaters”.
They are of different shapes:
• Black or grey dots
• Squiggly lines
• Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and almost see-through
Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen. By the age, the protein fibers that make up vitreous shrink down to little shreds that clump together. The shadow they cast on the retina is floaters. Sometimes a flash is seen that is because the vitreous has pulled away from the retina. This is the condition in which you should concern doctor as soon as possible.
These changes can happen at any age but usually occur between 50 and 75. You’re more likely to have them if you’re near-sighted or have had cataract surgery.
Eye Floaters can also result from:
• Eye disease
• Eye injury
• Diabetic retinopathy
• Crystal-like deposits that form in the vitreous
• Eye tumors
Serious eye disorders associated with floaters include:
• Detached retina
• Torn retina
• Bleeding in your vitreous
• Inflamed vitreous or retina caused by infections or an autoimmune condition
• Eye tumors
Most eye floaters and spots are harmless and merely annoying. Many will fade over time and become less bothersome. If there is a large number of floaters than they can bother.
In the past, the only treatment for eye floaters was an invasive surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. In this, the vitreous is removed from the eye (along with the eye floaters within it) and is replaced with a sterile clear fluid. But this treatment has high risk and less benefit.
Laser vitreolysis is a much safer alternative to vitrectomy for eye floater treatment.
“Well over 90% of people with floaters are not bothered by their presence.”