Harmless to Vision or Cause for Worry: Eye Floaters and What They Mean

Glasses rest on a diagnostic form that reads, “Diagnosis: Floaters.”Everyone has eye floaters occasionally, and they are entirely normal and usually harmless. The number you see may change over time because as we get older, they are more common. Having a sudden or significant increase in eye floaters, however, may be cause for alarm.

When you are looking for eye care, whether a new treatment for glaucoma or an eye exam near you, Campus Eye Center in Lancaster, PA, has a team of compassionate eye experts to care for your eyes.

What Are Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters are specks, dashes, dots, or lines that you may see in your field of vision from time to time, especially when looking at something solid-colored, like a wall with dark paint or a white piece of paper.

You may find they suddenly disappear or shift when you try to look directly at them. This shift in movement is because while they appear to be in front of your eye, they are inside it. Moving your eyes to try to look at the floaters will only move them, too.

Our eyes are full of a gel called the vitreous body that sometimes clumps up. These gel clumps, along with clusters of cells in the eyes, are the most common types of floaters. What we are seeing is the small shadows those clumps cast onto our retinas. The retinas send signals to the brain to alert the brain of minor light blockages, and the brain interprets those signals as eye floaters.

Some people are more susceptible to eye floaters than others. If you are nearsighted, have had eye surgery, had an eye injury, or had any kind of eye disease or inflammation, you may be one of these people.

How Does Aging Affect Eye Floaters?

Aging makes floaters worse because as we get older, the vitreous may shrink away from the back of the eye or get thicker. Posterior vitreous detachment is the technical term for when the vitreous shrinks and moves away from the retina. This condition can cause floaters, though usually not severe, and they tend to fade or even disappear eventually.

Sometimes, the shrinkage of the vitreous will cause tiny tears in the retina that may bleed. When this happens, there may be an uptick in the number of eye floaters you see. If you see more than usual, please schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near you.

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Do Eye Floaters Affect Vision or Cause Pain?

If you notice them, you may find yourself distracted from what you are looking at, but eye floaters, while annoying, should not significantly affect your vision. If they are large, they can be indicative of a more serious eye problem.

Typically, eye floaters do not cause pain. If you are experiencing pain, you may be suffering from an eye injury. Dry eye, corneal erosion, or eye infections may cause annoyance, or the sensation of a foreign body in the eye. Contact us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

When Should I Be Worried About Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters are primarily harmless, as we’ve outlined above. However, there are a few situations where they can be dangerous, and you should have your eyes checked out. If you experience a dramatic increase in eye floaters, have shadows in your peripheral vision, or it looks like something is blocking part of your vision, you should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. These can be signs of severe eye problems like retinal detachment, retinal tears, or bleeding inside the eye.

How Do You Get Rid of Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters tend to go away on their own. Ophthalmologists do not typically recommend removal surgery unless the eye floaters are debilitating for the patient. The success rate is high for patients who have floater removal surgery, and recovery time is short. This surgery is an outpatient procedure performed by an ophthalmologist in a sterile office setting.

Schedule an Eye Exam with Experts Near You!

Seeing an increase in eye floaters can be scary but is usually harmless. If you are experiencing something unusual with your eyes, don’t hesitate to contact us today and set up an appointment for a complete eye exam! When you have an eye exam with Campus Eye Center, we will answer any questions or concerns you may have. We are here to talk to you about your overall eye health and get you treatments for any eye issues that may come up.

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