They can be easy to ignore. Some of us never see them at all, or never notice them. Yet, once you notice floaters, you can’t help but see them again and again. It’s especially easy to see floaters when looking at a bright, solid-color computer screen. Or, on a cloudless day, take a look at the blue sky; if you have floaters, you’ll see them swimming around! They are those squiggly things that dart past your vision.
With that said, what are floaters? Are they the sign of an eye condition? Are they something to worry about? Let’s talk about floaters, learn about them, and understand what is normal, and when you should schedule an eye appointment.
What Are Floaters?
Before we dive right into floaters, let’s discuss your eye first. The inside of your eye is composed of a gel-like fluid known as the “vitreous”. This soft gel helps to hold together the other vital components of your eyes (cornea, retina, etc.).
Like all gels, the vitreous in your eye will, over time, dry out and shrink. A healthy pair of eyes can withstand this natural regression of the vitreous; there’s plenty of it to go around. However, part of this shrinking process creates “floaters”, which make up the debris of dried-up vitreous. Floaters are totally normal. As they form, they pass in front of your “macula”, which is how you see them. As time goes on, older floaters will settle to the bottom of your vitreous and you will no longer notice them.
Do They Go Away?
Floaters do not go away. Instead, they settle into a part of your vitreous that you cannot detect. Moreover, it’s not uncommon to produce new floaters, so there is a fair chance that you will always notice floaters when you stare at a bright, solid surface.
It might sound strange, but floaters are a natural part of the aging of your eyes. They aren’t anything to worry about unless they become excessive and/or interfere with your vision. It might be reassuring to know that floaters are always there; you just usually don’t notice them in your day-to-day life.
Can You Do Anything About Them?
In most cases, we recommend that you simply come to terms with the idea of floaters and live with them. You shouldn’t notice them all the time. If you’ve suddenly just noticed them, then there might be a period where your focus is drawn to them. However, with time, you’ll more than likely get used to them and stop noticing them as much!
However, in extreme and rare cases, your vitreous could produce more floaters than is normal, and in the case of your vision being disrupted, there are interventions. The least invasive is the use of lasers to “break up” the masses of dried vitreous.
Lastly, a more extreme procedure can be performed called a vitrectomy where a surgeon creates an incision in your eye, removes your vitreous, and replaces it with an artificial substance that mimics it. In most cases, neither procedure is needed.
When Should I See an Eye Doctor?
So, you’ve looked at your computer screen and were dismayed to see a bunch of little squiggles darting past your vision. What a shock that must have been. Is there something wrong with your vision?
Probably not! However, if you see floaters all the time and, worse yet, they begin to interfere with your vision, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with us. As we always say; any major change in your vision is worth a visit.
One thing to remember; if you’re suddenly seeing floaters in your vision, that doesn’t mean they haven’t always been there. It might simply be that this is the first time you’ve noticed them. In any case, feel free to schedule a visit and we’ll put your mind at ease.