What Are Those Annoying Specks and Spots?

Although they seem strange and may even be alarming, the truth is seven out of ten people experience some version of eye floaters during their lifetime. Floaters are those little black, squiggly or flickering spots in your eyes that seem to disappear when you try to look directly at them.

All floaters occur in the vitreous gel, the clear substance that fills your eyes, helping your eyeballs maintain their shape and allowing light to pass through your retinas. When you are born and throughout your youth, the vitreous has a gel-like consistency. But as you age, the vitreous becomes stringy, begins to shrink, and little particles form in the gel. These particles block the light passing through your eyes and cast shadows on your retina, which you see as floaters.

There are different kinds of floaters. Some appear as strings, some as dots, some as weird, dark shapes. Their possible cause may be:
•Protein clump formation -These floaters usually look like cobwebs, squiggles or tadpoles. They remain in the vitreous gel permanently, and can be ignored.
•Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) – When the vitreous gel pulls away from your retina, floaters resemble cobwebs, a mist or a veil that obscures a portion of your field of vision. These floaters usually become less noticeable after a few months. Lightening streaks or light flashes accompanied by floaters can also be PVD. These flashes may appear off and on for weeks or months, but usually eventually fade.
•Bursting retinal blood vessels – These floaters usually look little black dots, which can resemble smoke or a cloud of gnats. They can last for months, but usually resolve themselves as your body reabsorbs the blood.

The take away: Floaters and flashes could signal a more serious health problem if their onset is rapid. This could mean that the vitreous is pulling away from your retina or that your retina is becoming dislodged from the back of your eye. When the retina is torn, vitreous can invade the opening and push out the retina, leading to a retinal detachment, a serious condition which must be treated immediately.

The place to start: If you have questions, would like to know more or are concerned about floaters, call to schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Silverstein, today: 908-879-7297.

Posted in: Eye Conditions

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