No, that isn’t a swarm of tiny insects following you around. Those black spots, squiggly lines and drifting cobweb shapes in your visual field are called floaters.
Some patients are concerned about these moving specks, but they’re usually harmless. Still, a big increase in the number of floaters could indicate a more serious problem.
Contact Parkland Eye & Vision if you experience any unusual visual symptoms, including a sudden increase in floaters.
What Are Floaters?
The dark spots you’re seeing are caused by a shadow cast onto your retina. Over time, proteins in the gel-like fluid that fills the eye, called the vitreous, begin to clump together. These protein lumps block incoming light from reaching the back of your eye.
Next time you notice a floater, try shifting your focus to something in your periphery. The quick eye movement will often cause the floater to drift out of your central vision so you won’t notice it anymore.
What Causes Floaters?
- The primary cause of eye floaters is aging.
However, other conditions can cause an increase in floaters, including:
- Vitreous detachment
- Eye injuries
- Eye infections
- Bleeding within the eye
- Retinal detachment
- Retinal tearing
- Having high myopia (nearsightedness)
Treating the underlying cause of your floaters may minimize the number of floaters you see.
Are Floaters Normal?
Seeing occasional floaters is normal and nothing more than a temporary annoyance.
But a sudden increase in floaters can indicate a more serious condition that requires immediate attention such as those listed above. Floaters that are accompanied by flashes of light also warrant an urgent phone call to your eye doctor, because they could indicate a detached retina which can lead to permanent vision loss, unless treated quickly.
Eye Exams in Tacoma
If you notice new floaters, a large number of floaters that don’t resolve, or floaters accompanied by flashes of light, we can help.
Through a retinal or dilated eye exam, we’ll be able to evaluate the cause of your floaters and recommend a treatment plan for you if necessary.
At Parkland Eye & Vision, your eye health is our #1 focus.
To schedule your eye exam, call Parkland Eye & Vision in Tacoma today!
Can eye floaters cause blindness?
No, eye floaters themselves cannot cause a person to go blind. However, floaters can signal an underlying sight-threatening condition that can lead to blindness or vision loss unless treated promptly. Always discuss any changes in your vision with your local optometrist during your comprehensive eye exam to rule out potentially harmful eye disease.
Will eye floaters go away on their own?
In most cases of mild to moderate floaters, no treatment is needed at all. If nothing serious is causing your floaters, they will often resolve on their own. If they don’t fade and remain in your field of vision, your brain will likely adjust and learn to ignore them. Persistent floaters should be addressed by your family’s optometrist.