Eye floaters look like small specks, dots, circles, lines, strings or cobwebs in your field of vision. They may appear to be floating in front of your eyes, but floaters are actually tiny clumps of gel or cells floating inside the vitreous that fills your eye. Most of them are due to age-related changes that occur as the vitreous thickens, shrinks or becomes more liquid. What you are seeing are the shadows cast by these clumps on your retina, especially when you stare at a bright, plain surface, a reflective object or a blank paper.
While floaters are considered very common and often no cause for concern, there are certain instances that should warrant a visit to a trusted eye clinic in London or elsewhere. Keep an eye out for these medical emergencies to avoid potential damage to your eyesight.
Signs to Watch Out For
- Higher number or higher frequency of floaters than usual
- Notable changes in size, intensity and shape of eye floaters
- Floaters accompanied by flashes of light in the same eye
- Loss of peripheral vision or darkening on any side of the eye
- Blurred vision or complete loss of vision in affected eye
- A sudden onset of eye pain in the afflicted eye
Conditions Associated to Floaters
If you experience any of the abovementioned symptoms, it is possible that you are at risk of developing any of these dangerous eye conditions.
People who notice more floaters in their vision along with flashes of light may have a condition known as posterior vitreous detachment. This is when the gel-like fluid (vitreous) in the back of the eye is slowly pulling away from the retina, causing it to be detached.
In some cases, it is not the vitreous that becomes attached, but the retina itself. When it becomes dislodged from the eye’s inner lining, the retina may tear. Left untreated, this could lead to complete and permanent vision loss.
Posterior uveitis or inflammation in the layers of the uvea in the back of the eye can also cause the release of inflammatory debris into the vitreous. The floaters you see may be a result of infection or disease that causes the uvea to flare up.
Blood cells are also perceived as floaters by people who are suffering from vitreous hemorrhage (bleeding in the eye). Bleeding in the vitreous can be due to infection, injury, blood vessel leak, and blocked blood vessels—all of which require prompt medical attention.
Eye floaters are seldom treated as emergencies, but they may be a symptom of a more serious condition. The only way to know for certain whether you need treatment is to visit your eye doctor.