When Should You Be Concerned About Floaters?

When Should You Be Concerned About Floaters?

Eye floaters are tiny specks or strings that you sometimes notice when looking at an evenly lit background, such as a wall or a clear sky. These are caused by tiny fibers that clump inside the gel-like filling of your eye, and they tend to increase as you get older. 

While floaters are usually harmless, they can sometimes be a sign of serious eye issues, particularly when they appear suddenly, in large numbers, or along with other eye symptoms. The optometric physicians at Accent Vision Specialists in Santa Fe, New Mexico, can determine if your floaters are a cause for concern and recommend treatment if necessary. 

As you get older

Time affects many systems in your body, including your eyes. You might anticipate the need for reading glasses as part of getting older, but you may not expect to find an increase in the number of floaters you can perceive. 

Your eyes are filled with a gel-like substance called vitreous that supports the shape of your eye, helping to keep everything in focus. As you age, the consistency of the vitreous changes to become more liquid. Fibers within this fluid can now clump more easily. These clumps diffract light away from your retina, causing tiny shadows, the images you perceive as floaters. 

Because the filling of your eyes is viscous, it moves slowly in comparison with the motion of your eye. This is why floaters have a “lazy” way of moving, and it’s usually difficult to center them in your vision, since they move, albeit slowly, as your eyeballs move. 

Other causes of floaters

While age is by far the most common cause of floaters, there are other reasons they may turn up in your sight. Nearsightedness also increases your risk of developing floaters, as does a trauma injury to the eye. 

Patients with complications after cataract surgery could also see an increase in fiber clumps. Bleeding in the eye can happen for a wide variety of reasons, including high blood pressure, diabetes, or injury, and blood cells can cause the floater effect too. 

Inflammatory conditions of the eye are another source of debris in the vitreous that creates floaters, as are retinal tears. Serious tears can lead to retinal detachment and blindness. 

Conditions requiring urgent care

If you have a sudden increase in the number of floaters you see, it could be a sign of a retina problem or active bleeding in your eye. While this is a rare condition, it may mean that you need immediate treatment to preserve your eyesight. 

Other symptoms that may occur with a sudden increase include flashers, spots of brightness that resemble tiny flash bulbs going off, or an effect similar to “seeing stars” when you have a bump on the head. If the excess floaters are in one eye, the flashers are likely in that eye also. 

Peripheral vision loss, a dark area on one or both sides of your normal range of sight, could also accompany these issues, and suggest that you’re experiencing a torn retina. 

While there are some serious conditions associated with floaters, chances are that yours are harmless. Nonetheless, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to your vision, so trust your sight to the experts at Accent Vision Specialists. Call our office at 505-984-8989 to arrange an evaluation today. 

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