Eye Floaters

Healthy Aging, Healthy Living
on August 19, 2011
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Especially if you’re significantly nearsighted, you may have noticed weird little spots or “threads” in your field of vision. If you look at a bright, solid color, these semi-transparent spots look similar to cells or tissues viewed under a microscope. Eye floaters are especially noticeable if you look down for a period of time and then look back up. The spots will follow your field of vision, and then slowly sink out of sight after your eyes have stopped moving. Not everyone has floaters, but most people — especially adults 40 and over — have them to some degree. In most cases, they don’t interfere with normal sight and probably won’t even be noticed most of the time.

Causes. Eye floaters are caused by proteins lumping together in the vitreous fluid, the thin gel that fills up most of your eye. A lot of floaters are present from birth as the result of proteins caught in the eye during formation; others may show up as you age from natural deterioration of old tissues in the eye. In cases where floaters suddenly appear or become much more numerous — especially if they’re accompanied by flashes of light — retinal detachment or some other serious eye issue may have occurred. When in doubt, schedule an eye exam, and make sure to inform your eye doctor that you are concerned about floaters.

How to get rid of floaters. The only way to get rid of eye floaters is to surgically replace all of the natural vitreous fluid. The National Eye Institute cautions, “This operation carries significant risks to sight because of possible complications, which include retinal detachment, retinal tears, and cataract.” In addition, the eye is especially prone to infection following open procedures. Most ophthalmic surgeons strongly recommend that you not get this surgery unless the eye floaters are causing substantial vision issues and no other option for correction is available.