You may have adapted to the fleeting fuzz-like shadows in your field of vision, but what are they trying to tell you about your health? The diligent team of ophthalmologists at South Shore Eye Care in Wantagh and Massapequa, New York, knows that while most floaters are harmless, some indicate a more serious underlying disease. When it comes to your vision, they leave no stone unturned.
What are Floaters?
Eye floaters are small, irregular shadows in your vision that may bounce around or appear sporadically.
What Causes Floaters?
Inside your eye is a jelly-like substance called the vitreous. As you age, the vitreous becomes thinner, allowing tiny fibers within it to clump and cast a shadow on your retina.
When is it Important to See An Eye Doctor?
Anytime you develop new floaters, you should consult with your ophthalmologist. Additionally, when numerous new floaters appear at once and/or are accompanied by light flashes, it’s important to see an ophthalmologist immediately as this can indicate detachment between the vitreous and the retina and can cause vision loss if left untreated.
Is This a Correlation Between Floaters and Systemic Health Problems?
No, there has been no connection found between floaters and smoking, stress, or other health problems or diagnoses.
How Common are Floaters?
Floaters are very common, affecting over 70% of the population.
How are Floaters Treated?
The vast majority of floaters do not require medical treatment. Most floaters shrink and fade over time and are easily managed and tolerated. Sometimes looking up and down rapidly will cause the floaters to settle at the bottom of the eye, removing the shadows from your sight.
In rare cases, an extensive number of floaters can completely block vision. In these cases, the ophthalmologist performs a vitrectomy, a procedure in which the vitreous (jelly-like substance inside the eye) is removed with a needle and replaced with a saline solution.
When floaters appear as a symptom of retinal detachment, surgery is required to reattach the retina.
How are Floaters Diagnosed?
In most cases, your eye doctor can locate and examine floaters using his ophthalmoscope and slit-lamp, common equipment found in an eye doctor’s exam rooms. In some cases, fluorescein angiography is performed. In this procedure, dye is injected into the eye, making tiny vessels more visible.
What is the First Step If You Have Floaters?
The first and most important step to take when you notice new floaters is to schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist. Call South Shore Eye Care today to schedule an exam; the staff is eager to assist you.