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You never thought you were the type to see things, and yet there they are -- oddly-shaped objects drifting across your field of vision. But you're not going crazy. Many people see artifacts known as eye floaters as a result of debris floating inside the eye's vitreous fluid. While these objects are usually nothing to worry about, in some cases they can alert you to a possible retinal problem that requires attention. If you are concerned about eye floaters, our South Bay optometrist at Westchester Eye Care Center can help provide a diagnosis and solution.
Your eyes are filled with a clear fluid known as the vitreous. This vitreous normally changes from a thicker gel-like consistency to a more watery consistency over the years. The gel lining the retinal wall doesn't dissolve, however, and certain changes within the eye may cause specks of this material to break loose, floating in the watery vitreous occasionally clumping together. These eye floaters may look like light or dark blobs, rings, threads or other strange shapes, and they may be noticeable only under certain light conditions.
Eye floaters become fairly common after the age of 50, especially in nearsighted individuals and cataract surgery recipients. While you can readily learn to ignore these annoying but inevitable aberrations, a sudden "shower" of them could be a cause for concern, especially if they're accompanied by multiple "flashers" of bright light. These symptoms may indicate that the vitreous has shrunk to the point that it is detaching from the retinal wall. The potential danger here is that the tugging action of the vitreous may actually cause a retinal detachment, which can cause major vision loss if not treated immediately.
If you're experiencing mild, occasional eye floaters or flashers, you probably have nothing to worry about-- but it's always to make sure they're not a red flag warning you of some other, more serious situation. Our optometrist, Dr. Tabiza, can perform a comprehensive eye exam to view your retinas and vitreous directly. If you're showing signs of retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy or another serious problem, we may refer you to an ophthalmologist for medical treatment. If your floaters are really interfering with your eyesight, we may refer you for an eye floater treatment called laser vitreolysis, in which a surgical laser painlessly breaks up the floaters.
Don't stress yourself out wondering whether those mysterious floaters are cause for bigger concerns. Call our Westchester and South Bay optometrist at (310) 670-1888 to schedule an eye exam and consultation at Westchester Eye Care Center.