With time there is a chance that you might experience strings and specs interfering with your vision as you age. Those are called floaters and in this article we will take a look at what they can mean for your vision.
What is a floater?
As you age, the gel inside your eye, called the vitreous humour, eventually liquifies and might start to form into different shapes from the remaining parts of the gel, which might end up going into your vision as you are looking around. When light enters the eye, it can pass through such formations, making them visible.
Floaters are a normal part of the ageing process for the eye and in most cases they are nothing to worry about. They are especially noticed in environments where there is a lot of light. In most cases they will pass to the side of your vision and will take a while before you see them again.
However, in some cases they can be the result of another condition too. In cases where you experience floaters in large numbers, accompanied by other symptoms, you should check in with your doctor. There are also other reasons where you would want to get rid of floaters, especially if they are too large and interfering with your vision.
Sometimes you would notice dots, spots, specks or cobwebs, which will appear and drift away from your field of vision. They can come in many forms and are seen intermittently. Most of the time they do not change shapes, so it is likely you will be seeing one or more floaters you have seen over the years.
Floaters can appear in people who have nearsightedness for example. However you should also look out for other symptoms like:
- Many or new eye floaters
- You might notice flashes of light apart from the floaters
- Loss of part of your peripheral vision
Those are some signs that can alert for a bigger problem, retinal detachment being among them, which can harm your vision significantly.
What causes floaters?
There can be many reasons for floaters appearing in your vision.
1. The most common reason is age-related, which is a completely normal process and such floaters are very likely to appear in people over 50-60 years.
2. Floaters can also be caused by bleeding in the vitreous, caused by another condition.
3. In rare cases, retinal detachment or tear - when the vitreous humour turns into liquid, it might break through its shell, which is attached to the retina of the eye. This might also cause damage to the retina and tear it. If the retina is torn, that can also lead to liquid getting behind it, which can lead it to detach leading to vision impairment.
4. Inflammations and injuries can cause floaters to appear.
How are floaters treated?
For the most part floaters are not a threat themselves, unless they are very big and interfere with your vision. When they are causing frustration or discomfort when passing through your visual field, laser therapy is one of the methods that can be used to reduce the problem, by breaking the floater down.
In other cases a procedure to remove the vitreous and replace it with another fluid is also an option. Other than that, if they are not age related, floaters are prevented by treating any underlying conditions that have caused them.
Floaters can be relatively annoying, but are for the most part harmless if they are small. Still it is a good idea to book yourself an appointment in the next few days, just to make sure there is nothing more serious causing it.