Floaters Facts - From The National Eye Institute

Facts About Floaters

This information was developed by the National Eye Institute to help
patients and their families search for general information about
floaters.

An eye care professional who has examined the patient's eyes and is
familiar with his or her medical history is the best person to answer
specific questions.

Floaters Defined

What are floaters?

Floaters are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your field
of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like
spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. They move as your eyes
move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

They do not follow your eye movements precisely, and usually drift when
your eyes stop moving.

Most people have floaters and learn to ignore them; they are usually not
noticed until they become numerous or more prominent. Floaters can
become apparent when looking at something bright, such as white paper or
a blue sky.

Frequently Asked Questions about Floaters

Floaters and Retinal Detachment

Sometimes a section of the vitreous pulls the fine fibers away from the
retina all at once, rather than gradually, causing many new floaters to
appear suddenly. This is called a vitreous detachment, which in most
cases is not sight-threatening and requires no treatment.

However, a sudden increase in floaters, possibly accompanied by light
flashes or peripheral (side) vision loss, could indicate a retinal
detachment. A retinal detachment occurs when any part of the retina, the
eye's light-sensitive tissue, is lifted or pulled from its normal
position at the back wall of the eye.

A retinal detachment is a serious condition and should always be
considered an emergency. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent
visual impairment within two or three days or even blindness in the eye.

Those who experience a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light in
peripheral vision, or a loss of peripheral vision should have an eye
care professional examine their eyes as soon as possible.

Causes and Risk Factors

What causes floaters?

Floaters occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about
80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, slowly
shrinks.

As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands
can cast tiny shadows on the retina. These are floaters.

In most cases, floaters are part of the natural aging process and simply
an annoyance. They can be distracting at first, but eventually tend to
"settle" at the bottom of the eye, becoming less bothersome. They
usually settle below the line of sight and do not go away completely.

However, there are other, more serious causes of floaters, including
infection, inflammation (uveitis), hemorrhaging, retinal tears, and
injury to the eye.

Who is at risk for floaters?

Floaters are more likely to develop as we age and are more common in
people who are very nearsighted, have diabetes, or who have had a
cataract operation.

Symptoms and Detection

Floaters are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your field
of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like
spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. They move as your eyes
move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

They do not follow your eye movements precisely, and usually drift when
your eyes stop moving.

Treatment

How are floaters treated?

For people who have floaters that are simply annoying, no treatment is
recommended.

On rare occasions, floaters can be so dense and numerous that they
significantly affect vision. In these cases, a vitrectomy, a surgical
procedure that removes floaters from the vitreous, may be needed.

A vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel, along with its floating debris,
from the eye. The vitreous is replaced with a salt solution.

Because the vitreous is mostly water, you will not notice any change
between the salt solution and the original vitreous.

This operation carries significant risks to sight because of possible
complications, which include retinal detachment, retinal tears, and
cataract. Most eye surgeons are reluctant to recommend this surgery
unless the floaters seriously interfere with vision.

..
..
Donna G.
..

1) Rejoice always, Pray continually, Give thanks in all circumstances,
For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. ( I Thessalonians
5:16-18 NIV )

2) It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
- Edmund Hillary

3) ANGELS EXIST, but some times, since they don't all have wings, we
call them FRIENDS......