Have you ever seen drifting bugs, spots, or shadows in your vision? These are known as eye floaters or visual floaters. The scientific name for these is Muscae Volitantes.
Visual floaters are actually one of the more common complaints that eye care professionals hear about every single day. If you’ve never experienced them they show up as little spots just like gnats or bugs that seemed to drift or move in and out of our vision. They move away when you try to look at them. They seem to always drift and moves in and out of your way.
When these are a new experience for somebody then it’s a kind of scary experience for them. It kind of gives us instinct fears that we might be going blind, and even then most people tend to ignore them. Most of them do not prefer to get a professional opinion of what’s going on. They tend to just think that it’ll get better on its own.
In this article, we are going to discuss the following 3 topics:
1. Visual Floaters are a normal part of Aging.
2. Risk of a retinal tear or a retinal detachment.
3. Treatments of Floaters.
1. Eye Floaters are a normal part of Aging
There is a gel that sits inside the eye known as vitreous humor.
- It takes about 90% of the eye’s volume.
- It acts almost like a cushion for the eye in any sort of episode of trauma.
This gel actually degrades over time into more of a liquid when that happens the pieces of the collagen of the gel that are left start to form little deposits and strands and they sit inside that liquid. That’s what gives us that floating appearance as it kind of drifts back and forth.
When light enters the eye and hits those deposits it causes light to scatter giving us kind of a shadow image onto the retina on the back of the eye and that’s exactly why we see floaters the way that we do.
Again floaters are a normal part of Aging and if you hit around the age of60 or higher you already have a 25% chance of having these floaters and if you reach the age of 80 you’re at about a 66% chance. But it’s not just due to age there are some eye conditions that predispose you to have these floaters earlier on such as being very nearsighted.
Floaters are generally a normal experience for everyone as we get older and even more for people who have a higher prescription.
2. Risk of a retinal tear or a retinal detachment
The gel that’s inside the eye has an outer layer known as the vitreous cortex it’s made of more collagen. It kind of acts like a shell but it’s attached to the retina on the very back surface of the eye. As vitreous humor starts to degrade and turn more into a liquid then it peels away from the back of the retina and occasionally it can tug on the retina.
Typically, the outer edges starting off and when that happens it kind of acts like you’re pulling onto a poster off of the wall. It can actually cause a little tear or even rip off the entire retina of the eye. When the entire retina is ripped off then it is called retinal detachment and it is a true ocular emergency.
Now sometimes there is no warning sign of a retinal tear or detachment but frequently people start complaining about-
- Sudden onset of new floaters.
- Visions blurry,
- A bright flash of light in their eyes.
That occurs due to retinal detachment and causes a physiological excitation of the retina and our brain interprets it as a flash of light. Now, if you’re experiencing any of those signs and symptoms and you haven’t talked to your doctor already –
- You need to call your eye doctor make an appointment to be seen because this can be the sign of that tear or detachment. The sooner it gets identified and treated the better the outcomes will. Always remember that you only get two eyes to take care of them.
Additionally, because of those same peeling forces of the gel from the retina and the back of the eye, there can be some other complications particularly when it comes to what’s called the macula. The macula is the central part of our retina that gives us our crystal-clear vision looking straight ahead.
If that gel starts to peel away from the macula it can tug on the macula and cause the development of what’s called macular edema. It is a little crystal-like development within the retina causing our vision to be blurry.
Once it peels away another serious consequence is the development of a macular hole which is the same thing as the kind of the retinal hole off to the sides from the gel except it happens in the central macula so when you’re looking straight ahead you can no longer see directly what you want to look at.
It makes things very difficult for people to read or drive or see clearly, people may even become legally blind from that condition again all of these different conditions that we mentioned can be identified and treated better when it’s discovered earlier so don’t hesitate to see your doctor if you’re having these symptoms.
3. Treatments of eye floaters
Most people’s visual floaters are not serious enough to require treatment they can be a little bit annoying. Over time those floaters gently drift down due to gravity and out of your field of view or your brain just learns to adapt and get used to it.
But it can be difficult for some people. These floaters can be really large and they can affect your vision. They can prevent you from doing daily life activities. Such individuals are really good candidates for the treatment of visual floaters.
This is the oldest type of procedure for correcting floaters. In this procedure, your doctor surgically removes the gel that is inside the eye. They also simultaneously putting a new fluid inside the eye to keep the eye pressure and shape the same. They remove all the gel so all the floaters go with it.
b. Laser Procedure To Disrupt The Floaters –
This option actually came out pretty recently with the development of new laser procedures. It’s developed in Wisconsin by a surgeon who had been testing this out on patients. In this procedure, your eye surgeon zaps away the floaters inside the eye with a laser.
- the success rate was incredibly high.
- very low complication rate.
It still may not be beneficial for everybody because the location of the floaters may be the severity of other different eye diseases that you might have.