Spots and Floaters
Ever notice those tiny specks, flecks, spots, etc. that seem to drift around aimlessly when you open your eyes? Even though they’re particularly harmless, extreme cases of spots and floaters can cause harm to your vision. If you suddenly notice a large number of floaters than usual in your field of vision, you should seek treatment immediately.
Floaters are those tiny flecks, specks, spots, and ‘cobweb’ like things that float in your field of vision. They usually show up when the vitreous of your eye, a gel-like area, breaks loose in the inner rear portion of the eye. This is due to the fact that as we age, our vitreous starts to break up and dissolve, creating a watery center. Although you do not see them all the time, they are most prominent after staring at a computer screen, white background, or looking up at a clear sky. Shadows of these floaters are cast on our retina as light passes through our eyes, which is what we see.
How it Affects the Eye
If too many floaters appear, it usually means that your vitreous is detaching itself from the retina. A condition as such as this known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). The lining at the back of the eye contains nutrients, blood and oxygen necessary for healthy eye function. If your retina starts detaching from this layer, then the vitreous gel tugs at it, causing small holes or tears. Then the vitreous enters this opening, pushing the retina away. This is called retinal detachment. This ultimately leads to severe loss of vision.
It is quite normal to see floaters occasionally, but when you see too many of them it definitely is a red flag. When you see floaters along with flashes of light,
it is time to seek immediate medical attention. According to a recent study, about 39% of the people who reported eye floater symptoms were diagnosed with posterior vitreous detachment. About 9% were found to have a torn retina.
One of the main risk factors for new floaters is aging. People who have high myopia or sever nearsightedness are also at great risk of floaters and subsequently retinal detachment. Uveitis or inflammation within the eye, and recent intraocular surgeries are also considered risk factors for the development of spots and floaters.
If your floaters are persistent, then you might want to treat them through vitrectomy. This is an invasive surgical procedure in which some or your entire eye vitreous will be removed. It is then replaced with a sterile clear fluid. However, this procedure is risky and may cause surgically induced retinal detachment. A safer method to treat floaters is through laser vitreolysis. In this method, a laser beam is focused on the bigger floaters. This breaks them apart or vaporizes them, making them less prominent and bothersome.