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Eye Floaters

Some eye issues are practically universal. A great example of this is eye floaters - by the age of 70, most of the population has developed an eye floater at some point. But while this condition is universal, it’s not always harmless. At Everett & Hurite, we take eye floaters very seriously, and we encourage our patients to do the same.

About Eye Floaters

Eye floaters are an almost universal eye issue. The term "Eye floaters" refers to the development of specks, spots and/or shapes that appear to "float" in a patient's field of vision. Eye floaters are often reported to look like any number of different shapes, including:

  • dots
  • thin strands that resemble thread
  • rings
  • cobwebs
  • squiggly lines

Causes Of And Risk Factors For Eye Floaters

In the vast majority of cases, eye floaters in all of their forms are benign, and are simply the result of a natural aging process in which flecks of protein and gel shrink and break away from the retina of the eye. This process creates tiny shapes or flecks that can begin floating within the gel that fills in the back of the human eye, which leads to the image of "floaters" in our field in vision.

In some cases, however, floaters are caused by a much more serious problem that will ultimately require medical attention. Examples of serious causes of floaters include:

Often, cases of eye floaters that present with flashing lights or halos of light are suffering from one of these more serious causes of eye floaters. But this is not a guaranteed sign of trouble, as some benign cases of eye floaters also present with flashing lights - and some severe cases of them do not.

Preventing & Addressing Eye Floaters

While regular eye visits and good eye care may help to prevent the emergency causes of floaters, age-related floaters cannot be prevented.

Similarly, treatment options for eye floaters varies depending on the cause. If a serious vision health issue is the underlying cause, treatment of that vision issue will be an essential part of taking care of one’s eye floaters. In the majority cases, however, floaters that are related to natural aging will become less bothersome with time.

Large, aggravating floaters that interfere with a patient’s inability to function, or which fail to improve, may require a consult with a retina specialist. Treatments such as laser or surgeryor medication can be used to address the issue, but carry significant risk. Talk with one of our retina specialists before considering such a treatment.

Because the causes and options for treating eye floaters is so heavily dependent on their cause and severity, scheduling an eye appointment immediately after developing an eye floater or multiple new eye floaters in a short time span is a critical part of ensuring your eyes are not being subjected to a serious health problem. Additionally, annual complete eye exams can ensure that patients dealing with serious vision issues can obtain treatment for them, perhaps long before eye floaters begin to develop.

Image courtesy of wikimedia.org