Eye Floaters are small spots that drift through your field of vision. They may stand out when you look at something bright, like white paper or a blue sky. Most people find them to be annoying. You can learn to live with floaters and ignore them. You may notice them less as time passes.
What Are the Symptoms?
Floaters earn their name by moving around in your eye. They tend to dart away when you try to focus on them.
They come in many different shapes:
- Black or gray dots
- Squiggly lines
- Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and almost see-through
What Causes Them?
Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen. They’re part of a gel-like substance in the back of your eye called the vitreous.
As you age, the protein fibers that make up the vitreous shrink down to little shreds that clump together. The shadows they cast on your retina are floaters.
These changes can happen at any age, but usually occur between 50 and 75. You’re more likely to have them if you’re nearsighted, or have had cataract surgery.
When to See the Doctor
Go to the doctor ASAP if you notice:
- A sudden increase in the number of floaters
- Flashes of light
- A loss of side vision
- Changes that come on quickly and get worse over time
- Floaters after eye surgery or eye trauma
- Eye pain
Choose a doctor who has experience with retina problems. If you don’t get help right away, you could lose your sight.
Laser Treatment for Floaters
Recently, a laser procedure called laser vitreolysis has been introduced that is a much safer alternative to vitrectomy for eye floater treatment. In this in-office procedure, a laser beam is projected into the eye through the pupil and is focused on large floaters, which breaks them apart and/or frequently vaporizes them so they disappear or become much less bothersome.
To determine if you can benefit from laser vitreolysis to get rid of eye floaters, Dr. Christiansen will consider several factors, including your age, how quickly your symptoms started, what your floaters look like and where they are located.