from Triad's Eye Care Notes
by Triad Publishing Co.
Floaters are translucent specks that seem to float about in
your field of vision. Some floaters are normal, and most people
have them, but they don't usually notice them unless they
become numerous or more prominent. Floaters can look like
cobwebs or squiggly lines or floating bugs. They become more
apparent when you look at something plain and bright, such
as white paper or a blue sky, and are more evident when they
are stirred up, such as when you move your eyes. You may be
especially aware of them when you look through an optical
instrument, such as a microscope or binoculars. Floaters are
more common and seem to be more annoying to people who are
nearsighted or who have had a cataract operation.
Are These Floating Specks?
of the interior of the human eyeball is filled with vitreous,
a clear, thick substance that helps in maintaining the eye's
round shape. Light passes through the vitreous (after being
focused by the cornea and lens) to reach the retina, where
images are formed. Any bits of tissue moving about in the
vitreous cast shadows onto the retina, and you see those shadows
as things "floating" in your field of vision.
Do Floaters Get There?
birth, there is a large blood vessel in the vitreous, but
by birth the vessel is no longer required and it disintegrates
-- but not completely. A few broken-up particles remain for
life and float around. These are the floaters that everyone
has. Other occurrences can add more floaters. As your eyes
age, the vitreous may become stringy, and the strands cast
tiny shadows on the retina. Bits of debris from other tissues
in the eye may fall into the vitreous. Floaters may come from
old or new bleeding within the eye. They may be the result
of a disease that causes opaque deposits in the vitreous or
of an ocular inflammation that causes cellular debris, or
they may be residual from an old injury.
Floaters a Serious Problem?
In most cases floaters are simply an annoyance. An eye examination
will usually reveal if there's something serious that needs
medical attention. The sudden appearance of new floaters,
sometimes accompanied by apparent flashes of light ("lightning
streaks") in the visual periphery, can be a sign you have
had a vitreous detachment, a frequent consequence of aging
that is not usually serious. These same symptoms can also
be a danger sign that a retinal tear has occurred. The only
way to find out the reason for these sudden new floaters is
by having a complete eye examination, followed by another
one about six weeks later.
Floaters Be Removed?
floaters interfere with vision, you can shift them out of
your line of sight by moving your eyes around quickly, side-to-side
or up-and-down. The only way to permanently get rid of them
is by surgical removal, and since they are rarely more than
a nuisance, the benefit of surgery would not warrant the risks.
Surgery might be considered necessary only if the cells and
debris are so dense and numerous that they interfere with
useful vision, but this is very rare. Almost everyone learns
to ignore them and simply live with them.
from Triad's Eye Care Notes
© 1989-2005 by Triad
Patients: for more information about your eyes, see: Taking
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Used by America's Leading Eye Doctors