What am I seeing?!


Floaters are little specks or dark/gray spots that float into your field of vision.  They are often more noticeable when you are looking at a bright background (white wall, clear blue sky, etc.).  They can look small, thread like, shadows, cobwebs, squiggly lines, or like specks of dirt.  Floaters move as your eye moves and seem to dart away when you attempt to look at them.  Floaters can seem to drift away when you stare in one spot. 

Our eyeballs are filled with a jelly like material called the vitreous.  The vitreous, over time, can shrink and break into small pieces.  These pieces float freely around, causing “floaters”.  With time and gravity, they will settle to the bottom of the eyeball and become less bothersome and noticeable. 

In many cases, floaters occur as part of our natural maturing process.  However, in some cases they can be a result of more serious conditions.  Floaters can be caused by infection, inflammation, hemorrhaging, tears in the back of your eye (retina), or injury to the face or eye.  In such cases, it is of the upmost importance that you seek care from an eye care professional for an eye exam and dilation.  Only a complete eye exam with dilation can tell you what the cause of the floaters are.  If left untreated, serious consequences can occur such as permanent vision loss from a retinal detachment.  In some cases, floaters (usually cobweb like) can indicate that your blood pressure and or diabetes are out of control.  Seek care immediately if you have other health conditions and are experiencing new or different floaters (different meaning that they have changed in size, shape, amount, etc.).

A sudden increase in floaters, possibly accompanied by light flashes or side vision loss could be indicative of a retinal detachment.  Only your eye doctor can examine and let you know for sure.  Retinal detachments are serious and are considered as an EMERGENCY.  Patients with these symptoms should be seen within 24 hours.  Permanent vision loss can occur if not treated promptly.