What are eye floaters?
Eye floaters appear as black or grey specs, strings or cobwebs that shift around when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly.
Eye floaters are caused by changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside the eye becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and cast tiny shadows on your retina, which appear to you as floaters. Eye floaters are caused for various reasons, some more serious than others.
Are eye floaters serious?
Many people have eye floaters. Floaters that have been present for years and show little or no change are not usually serious. Sudden change in the floaters may be more serious.
Anyone with floaters should be examined by an optometrist promptly. An examination of the retina with dilated pupils is essential to see the back of the eye.
What is the optometrist looking for if I have floaters?
You optometrist will look into your eyes for an illness or damage to the vitreous or retina. Sudden floaters or flashes in the eye are often caused by a separation of the vitreous and the retina. In about 10% of cases, when this occurs the retina may have ripped of detached itself. In most cases, the retina is not ripped and your optometrist will re-examine your eye at a later date.
What can be done to treat eye floaters?
In most cases, floaters gradually decrease weeks or months later and oftentimes do not completely disappear. Most people learn to ignore them. Eye floaters, like flashes, may disappear even if a rip or detachment of the retina has occurred. Even if the floaters appear to have disappeared, you should be examined by an optometrist.
Your optometrist will discuss treatment options if you have a retinal rip or detachment.