What are eye floaters and why do we get them?
Most of us have noticed eye floaters at one time or another. They usually appear as spots or specs that seem to drift aimlessly across our field of vision, often moving out of sight whenever we try to look directly at them. Floaters are most noticeable when staring at the sky or any bright blank surface. So, what exactly are they and should you be concerned?
What are eye floaters?
In most cases, floaters are tiny pieces of the gel-like part of the eye between the retina and the lens (called the vitreous). As we age, the vitreous begins to dissolve and liquefy and particles will sporadically float around in the centre. These spots and specs that we see are not actually the vitreous particles themselves but the shadows they create on the back of the eye (the retina).
The good news is, most of the time floaters are completely harmless. However, they can sometimes be indicators of more serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, inflammation at the back of the eye or even retinal tears.
When to see a doctor about eye floaters.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is best to contact your optometrist or eye doctor as soon as possible to prevent any possible damage to your vision.
- A sudden onset of new floaters
- An excessive amount of floaters
- Flashes of light
- Peripheral vision loss
- Areas of darkness
- Eye pain along with the floaters
If you have recently had eye surgery or experienced trauma to the eye area this may also cause an increase in eye floaters and it is a good idea to mention it to your doctor.
If you are concerned about eye floaters, the safest option is always to speak with your regular eye health professional. They will be able to assess the overall health of your eyes and decide if further treatment is needed. If you do require another opinion or treatment please call the Northern Eye Centre on 9459 5133 to make an appointment at one of our Melbourne based clinics.