Have you ever had spots that look like a spider web in your eyes or in your line of vision, and you probably overlooked it thinking that it is nothing? Well, you should be a little bit bothered as you may be dealing with a condition known as Eye Floaters.
Eye Floaters are spots that move about in your line of vision. For some people, they may not appear as spots; instead, they may come as web-like lines or rings that move through your line of sight.
They can often appear as Gray or dark specks that tend to move when you try to look at them directly or when you move your eyes. They are usually very common, and it seems like they are objects in front of your eyes, whereas in the real sense, they are actually in your eyes.
Eye floaters are often as a result of the changes that are brought on by age to the vitreous liquid substance in your eyes. Usually, the vitreous substance in your eyes is often jelly-like; however, due to age, they can become watery.
The essence of th vitreous substance is to prevent microscopic filters from entering the retina. However, as you age and the vitreous substance becomes more watery, these tiny filters can enter your eyes, clump together and begin to cast shadows on your retina. As a result, you are forming those spots that you see in your line of vision.
When eye floaters occur, they don’t raise any cause of alarm and often resolve themselves. However, when they become persistent, it means they are serving as indicators for a particular eye problem, and as such, it is essential you meet with an eye specialist immediately.
Causes of Eye floaters
Often eye floaters are as a result of age; however, in some cases, they are due to an emerging eye defect or problem which needs the immediate attention of an eye specialist. Most causes of eye floaters are:
As mentioned earlier, naturally, there is the presence of a jelly-like liquid known as the vitreous liquid. This liquid helps to maintain the position and rotation of the eyeballs. It also fills the eyeballs, helping them retain their round shape and not go flaccid.
However, as aging sets in, this vitreous substance can become to turn partially liquid. Once this occurs, it can cause the eyeballs to pull away from the eye sockets’ interior surface. Recall that it is this vitreous substance that fills the eyeballs.
Once this vitreous liquid starts seeping out of the eyeballs, it doesn’t go anywhere. Instead, it shrinks, sags, and begins to clump together. As it clumps, it becomes stringy and forms debris. It is this debris that starts to block some of the pathways of light from entering the eyes.
When light is blocked by a particular image, it causes the formation of shadows. When cast on the retina, these shadows are seen by the patient as spots that eventually are known as Eye Floaters.
Inflammation of the retina
Inflammation of the retina often occurs as a result of the development of posterior uveitis. Posterior uveitis occurs when there is an infection of the layers of the uvea, which is located in the back of the eye.
This condition often causes the release of inflammatory debris into the vitreous humor of the eye. It is this debris that is often seen by the patient as spots and, as such, results in eye floaters.
Posterior uveitis is often caused by infections, certain inflammatory diseases, and other eye causes.
Tearing of the retina
It may not be easy to believe, but the retina can get torn as it is only a tissue. Tearing of the retina occurs when vitreous humor starts to sag, thereby tugging on the retina. This tug can have place adequate force on the retina, which can tear it.
Although the retina is a tissue, it is often regarded as a soft tissue, and as such, any force that is applied directly to the retina can tear or injure the retina. When the retina tears and there is no immediate treatment, it can result in the complete detachment of the retina.
Complete detachment of the retina occurs when there is an accumulation of fluid found behind the retina. When this fluid becomes too much, it can cause a separation of the retina and its original location.
If the detachment of the retina is not treated as quickly as possible, it can lead to the partial or total loss of the patient’s vision.
Bleeding within the eye
Bleeding into the vitreous humor of the eye can cause eye floaters. Eye bleeds can be caused by different factors such as hypertension, diabetes, injury to the eye, or blockage of the eye vessels. Blood is formed by microscopic cells.
When there is bleeding into the eye, these tiny cells will start to create black spots, which is seen as eye floaters.
Eye medications and eye surgeries
There are some eye treatments that may include the injection of these medications directly into the eye’s vitreous humor. When these treatments are applied, it can cause the formation of air bubbles.
Until the eyes absorb the treatment, these bubbles can appear to the patient as eye floaters. Asides eye treatment, certain eye surgeries such as vitreoretinal surgeries require the addition of silicone oil bubbles into the eye’s vitreous humor.
Once these silicon oil bubbles are applied, the patient may see it as eye floaters.
There are other eye conditions that can result in the development of eye floaters. Some of these conditions include diabetic retinopathy, eye tumors, eye disease, eye injuries, deposits of crystal-like substances that are formed in the vitreous humor, and so on.
For some patients, they may not be experiencing eye floaters; however, they still experience symptoms related to eye floaters. For example, the visual aura that is associated with migraine headaches may have symptoms related to eye floaters.
However, for these sets of people, they usually experience this distortion of vision in both eyes at the same time, and it usually lasts for a few minutes. However, they tend to resolve themselves as quickly as they developed.
The patient may not experience this again until he or she has another episode of migraine headaches.
Symptoms of Eye floaters
The symptoms of eye floaters include:
- The development of small shapes that appear like dark specks or transparent knobby strings of locating materials that are seen in your line of vision.
- Development of spots that moves every time your eye moves, such that when you try to look at them, they completely disappear from your line of vision.
- Spots that are often noticeable every time you look to a white or plain background
- Small string or shapes that usually settles down and eventually drifts out of your visual field.
- Presence of small tiny lines that are often seen in your field of vision
- Presence of rings or cobwebs in your line of sight.
Risk factors associated with Eye floaters
There are certain factors that will increase your chances of developing eye floaters. These factors include:
- Age: People who are 50 and above are more at risk of developing eye floaters that people in other age groups. This doesn’t mean that people of different age groups can’t develop this disease. However, as you age, it increases your chances of developing eye floaters.
- People dealing with nearsightedness
- Forceful trauma to the retina or the vitreous humor can result in the development of eye floaters.
- Inflammation of the eye, especially posterior uveitis.
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Development of complications from certain surgeries such as cataract surgeries.
When should I consult my doctor concerning my eye floaters?
Usually, eye floaters often resolve themselves. If you have eye floaters that don’t change over time, it is okay for you to leave it to resolve itself as most eye floaters that don’t have the underlying disease often relieve themselves.
However, if you notice the following, you should visit your doctor
- If you notice that there is a sudden increase in the number of floaters that you are seeing.
- If you notice that in addition to the floaters, you keep seeing flashes of light.
- If you notice that you have lost your side vision.
- If you notice changes in your vision that suddenly appear and they keep getting worse quickly.
- If you see that your eye floaters began after a forceful trauma to your eye occurred or after you had your eye surgery.
- If you notice that in addition to your eye floaters, you are experiencing severe pains.
Treatment of eye floaters often depends on what caused it. In most cases, eye floaters resolve themselves. Some eye floaters are harmless, while others are an indication of a problem within your eye.
Generally, treatment may take any of these forms:
Ignore your floaters
For those eye floaters that are benign and harmless, what you should do is to ignore them. In most cases, after a couple of days or weeks, you may realize that they are no longer there. If they don’t resolve themselves, your brain would have learned to keep functioning without taking note of them.
Sometimes, the best option of treatment, especially in this case, is to do nothing at all. However, if these floaters begin to impair your vision or start becoming a nuisance, you should hurriedly visit the doctor.
A vitrectomy is an invasive procedure that is carried out to remove eye floaters from your field of vision. In this procedure, your eye specialist will remove the vitreous humor with a small incision. It is important to note that your vitreous is a small clear gel-like liquid that helps to keep your eyeball round and in its place.
After draining the vitreous humor, your doctor will then input another substance that is like that of the vitreous he removed into your eyeball to help maintain your eyeball structure. Your body, over time, will then produce enough vitreous that will later replace the new solution.
Although this procedure is highly effective, however, in most cases, it doesn’t always remove all the eye floaters. It also leaves a high tendency for these floaters to form again, especially if there is any form of bleeding or trauma that has been caused by this procedure.
The use of lasers
Laser therapy involves the use of lasers, which are being aimed at the floaters, thereby causing them to break up and reducing their presence within the eye.
However, as with any surgery, there are high risks. If these lasers are aimed incorrectly or mistakenly to the retina, it could damage your eyes, leading to complete and permanent loss of vision.
Also, it is essential to know that this procedure is still an experimental one. As such, it carries a high amount of risk with little insurance. Although it has been used by several patients before, however, some of these patients have complained post surgery about a lack of improvement while others complained that if worsened their symptoms.
It is essential to discuss your treatment options with your eye specialist. Know the pros and cons of them before embarking on any treatment plan.