What Eye Floaters and Spots Tell You About Your Vision

eye floaters

No one likes to think about losing their vision. It is a terrifying thought. That is why even seemingly benign issues, such as eye floaters, can put you in a panic with thoughts of permanent disability making your heart race and palms sweat.

Many people suffer from spots in their vision or small dots that dance across their eyes. They are a frustrating nuisance, always seeming to disappear when you try to focus directly on them. Sometimes they appear as cobwebs or strands of wriggling threads. Some even appear as shadows.

Fortunately, not all vision impairment means eventual loss of one of our most important senses. Often, floaters and spots can be lived with for many years with no harm being done.

What are Eye Floaters?

Although sinister sounding, eye floaters, and spots are most commonly the product of a routine body process. Your eye is filled with a jelly-like substance called the vitreous. This is what gives your baby blues their round shape. The consistency of the vitreous changes and becomes more liquid as you age. This results in microscopic protein fibers clumping and causing disrupting reflections on your retina. As the clumps migrate around your eye, the resulting “floaters” move around your field of vision.

Age-related eye floaters do not generally go away, but over time you get used to their presence. They have little impact on the quality of your vision. Sometimes, they float to parts of your eye which cannot be readily seen and fool you into thinking they have disappeared entirely. If you experience eye floaters, it is possible to move them to less obtrusive parts of your vision by moving your eyes until the spots drift away.

Some Floaters Will Permanently Affect Your Vision

Other causes of eye floaters are rarer but also far more serious.

  • Detached or torn retina
  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Inflammation in the eye

Trauma to the eye will cause vision impairment like floaters and spots. Also, many autoimmune disorders affect your vision by causing inflammation throughout the vitreous and other parts of your eyes.

See a Doctor if Your Eye Floaters Increase Rapidly

Telling the difference between an innocent age-related floater and a spot which indicates more severe problems can be difficult. See your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following.

  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters or spots
  • Flashes of light
  • Loss of peripheral vision/darkness to the sides of your vision
  • Pain in your eye
  • Changes that come on quickly and become worse over time
  • Changes in vision after eye surgery or eye trauma

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to see your eye doctor as soon as possible. All most likely indicate something very wrong is happening and you require medical treatment from an opthamologist.

When it comes to your eyes, it is better to be safe than sorry. Although most eye floaters and spots are harmless annoyances, some indicate real problems with your vision. If you are in doubt, see your optometrist. At the very least you will gain peace of mind, and it could possibly mean the difference in your continued health.

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