Eye floaters are small area of gray or black in the vision that moves, or floats, around as the eye moves. A clumping causes this dark area in the gel-like vitreous of the eye. When there is a clump or solid area in the vitreous, it will cast a shadow on the retina and result in a floater in the vision. There are multiple causes of floaters including aging, high prescription, and retinal or vitreous detachments. While floaters are annoying or bothersome, they are rarely a threat to vision or impair any activities. Since most floaters are not a true health concern, there is no active treatment and the solid clump will begin to condense and settle to the bottom of the vitreous. If there is an underlying cause of the floater, such as a retinal detachment, it will be treated as needed.
What is the Vitreous?
The vitreous is a jelly-like substance that fills the eyeball.
It is found behind the crystalline lens and in front of the retina.
The vitreous is composed of water, proteins, and vitamins that help provide nutrients to the eye.
The vitreous is usually completely clear and does not impact vision in any way.
However, if the vitreous changes from its watery base and begins to solidify, a floater can form.
Eye Floaters in the Vitreous
A solid clump of protein, collagen, or fibers in the vitreous can lead to a floater.
This solid structure is no longer clear like the rest of the vitreous, and it casts a shadow onto the retina.
When the retina is unable to receive light from outside the eye, it perceives a dark gray or black area.
This phenomenon causes floaters to appear as a black or gray smudge in the vision.
Since the vitreous is highly mobile, the floater will move as the eye moves and the vitreous shifts within the eye.
This may cause the floater to appear like a gnat or bug actually flying in front of the eye.
Causes of Floaters
Most of the time, floaters are a result of age-related changes to the vitreous.
With age, the vitreous loses some of its components and can condense into clumps, leading to floaters within the eye.
Another common cause of floaters is a posterior vitreous detachment. This occurs when the vitreous pulls away from the retina and optic nerve but leaves an area of cells and tissue in the vitreous.
In some people with a very highly nearsighted prescription, the vitreous is pulled and stretched and leading to floaters at a young age.
The most concerning cause of floaters is retinal detachment. These floaters may seem to be all at once and numerous whereas most of the time floaters will only develop singularly and slowly.
A retinal detachment can lead to lots of debris within the vitreous that causes many new floaters all at once.
Treatment for Floaters
In most cases, floaters that are due to age or prescription will not be treated since they do not pose a threat to vision.
Floaters related to a retinal detachment will be treated along with the retinal detachment itself.
There are laser surgery procedures that can be used on floaters but their use is still considered controversial.
Our eye doctor at Brooklyn Eye Care excels in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases like eye floaters. Call our optometrist at (763) 999-6116 to schedule your appointment today. Our eye doctor, Dr. Vivian Ekemezie provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Brooklyn Park, MN area.