You are probably used to having a clear vision. Even if you suffer from vision impairments, like myopia or hypermetropia, at least you don’t have dots in your vision. But, some people don’t have the luxury of seeing clearly. Some people have to deal with seeing spots and eye floaters that drift around and that you can never seem to focus on.
And these spots are more likely to develop in older people. Sometimes, they can even appear as flashes. Not many people have to deal with them, at least not when they are young. So, if you wake up one day and you suddenly have then, it’s normal to be confused. This condition is not an issue that people often discuss or even know about–until it happens to them.
And, because they are not common knowledge, they catch many people off guard. But you need to check them as soon as they appear because sometimes they indicate that you’re dealing with something worse. And you need to be aware that they become more common as you get older.
What Are Eye Floaters?
Eye floaters are the little shapes you notice floating in front of you. They are never clear, and you can’t focus on them. It can seem like you are looking at a photo taken with a camera that has dust on its lens. And, no matter how hard you try to blink them away, they won’t disappear. Even when you look at something else, eye floaters move around with your vision.
They appear when your vitreous humor gets more liquid, but some parts of it get harder. The vitreous is a gel-like substance in the middle of the eye. As people get older, this gelatinous substance shrinks, creating particles. These particles detach from the mass and start floating through the vitreous. As they move through the mass, they pass in front of the macula, which is the center of the retina. Because of this, they can obstruct your vision.
Eye floaters have been described in many different ways by different people. Some people even get creative with it and say they see spiders, amoebas, or clouds. But usually, they are spots, squiggly lines, strands, dark spots, or shadowy shapes. These shapes are most noticeable when looking at a plain background, like a white wall.
Why Do Eye Floaters Form?
1. Aging Can Cause Eye Floaters
The eye is one part of the body that is especially vulnerable to change when you age. As you get older, the muscles that control your eyes get weaker, and you start losing your eyesight. And the part that takes an immense toll is the vitreous. When you are young, it has a gelatinous texture. It can keep its round shape, which keeps the round shape of the eye.
This substance fills the space between the lens and the retina, taking up 80% of the eye. The vitreous allows you to see clearly. It’s a transparent substance, allowing the light to pass through it and reach the retina. But the vitreous doesn’t stay bouncy forever. As you get older, the vitreous liquefies, which causes it to shrink, sag, clump, and get stringy. These particles harden, and they start floating through the liquid.
Initially, they will be all over your eye, but they will settle and sink towards the bottom of your eye in time. Once they are there, you won’t notice them anymore. However, it would be best to visit a doctor when you started seeing these floaters. While they aren’t usually concerned about it, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Torn Retina
Because the vitreous sags as you get older, it pulls away from the back of the eye, tugging on the retina. In some cases, the force of the pull can be strong enough to tear the retina. And if the tear isn’t discovered, fluid can pass through the incision until it detaches the retina. A simple tear will only lead to eye floaters or might cause you to see flashes. But it’s still an emergency that you must take seriously.
When your retina gets partially detached, you will see a lot of new floaters or even a dark shadow obstructing your vision. But if the retina gets detached, it can lead to vision loss or even total blindness.
3. Inflammation in the Posterior Part of the Eye
This is an inflammation of the uvea, a layer of fibrous tissue that surrounds and protects the eye. It contains blood vessels, which is why it can cause inflammation in other structures of the eye. It can affect the iris, the ciliary body, or the choroid. When this inflammation affects the retina or the optic nerve, it can even lead to permanent vision loss.
Posterior uveitis is the rarest form of uvea inflammation. Still, it can affect both eyes, and its victims can be old or young people. This condition can cause inflammatory debris to be released into the vitreous, thus causing floaters.
4. Bleeding In the Eye
There are many reasons why bleeding might occur inside the eye. Because the eye has many veins, most of them very thin, there is a high likelihood that one might burst. And this bleeding can be caused by diabetes, hypertension, and injuries. When blood cells are released into the eye, they are perceived as floaters.
One way to make sure that this will not be a problem is by treating the underlying conditions. If you have diabetes or hypertension, make sure you keep them under control if you don’t also want your eyes to get affected.
5. Surgeries and Medication Can Cause Eye Floaters
The vitreous is very sensitive. Some eye medication is injected straight into the vitreous. Because of this, it can cause air bubbles to form. And certain vitreous surgeries add silicone oil bubbles into the eye.
Either one of these bubbles can be seen as a floater. If you can avoid any intrusive intervention in the vitreous, it would be best. Otherwise, you have to deal with the risk of getting floaters, or your existing condition might worsen.
How to Handle Eye Floaters
1. Pretend The Eye Floaters Are Not There
Eye floaters are usually nothing to worry about. They aren’t an emergency, and as long as you get regular eye check-ups, you should be fine. So, in most cases, the best way to deal with floaters is to straight-up ignore them.
In most cases, eye floaters will fade, disappear, or you will get used to them. Floaters sink to the bottom of the eye if you give them some time. And, even if they don’t fade, your vision will begin to adapt. This is the only non-invasive way through which you can deal with floaters. But, if they become a nuisance or they obstruct your vision, you might have to consider other options.
2. Laser Therapy
Laser therapy is a procedure that aims to break up eye floaters. It can reduce their presence, but there are low chances that it will remove them altogether. This procedure is still experimental, so it’s not recommended as the preferred treatment. In some cases, it can increase the number of floaters. And, if the lasers aren’t pointed correctly, they can damage your retina.
But this procedure is still being developed. And, if the details can be perfected, it might turn out to be the best way to deal with floaters. It’s much less intrusive than surgeries, and it’s better than ignoring the issue.
A vitrectomy is the most invasive procedure that you can use to deal with the eye floaters situation. To perform this, a doctor will remove the vitreous and replace it with a solution meant to replicate it. This solution will have the gelatinous texture it needs to have, and it will maintain the shape of the eye. In time, the body will produce more vitreous, replacing the artificial one.
There is no guarantee that this procedure will remove all eye floaters. Additionally, more floaters can be formed in time. So, even though this is the best method to get rid of floaters, it’s not permanent. And you might even need to perform this procedure again. But you should never consider this unless you have a severe case of eye floaters.
Final Thoughts On What It Means When You See Things Floating In Your Eyes
Eye health is a topic that many overlook and the average person doesn’t know much about how to take care of their eyes. Not only that, but when something’s off with their vision, most people brush it off. They think that it’s not a big deal their vision is a little blurry today. Tomorrow will surely be better.
But because of this, many people start needing glasses or even get so bad as to risk going blind. But when you add eye floaters to this whole equation, it all gets that much more confusing. Eye floaters are the little shapes and spots that you get in your field of vision. The feeling is like looking at something through a dirty window. But you can’t clean this dust off. These floaters are, unfortunately, here to stay.
Eye floaters aren’t common among young people. But as soon as you pass 60, the risk of getting them goes through the roof. And you need to learn what they are if you want to deal with them. They are usually parts of the vitreous that have hardened, detached through the mass, and floated through the mass. But other things, like blood cells and air bubbles, can be seen as floaters. They float around, and when they get over the retina, they will partially obstruct your vision.
They mostly go with aging, but a torn retina, inflammations, bleeding, and even surgeries and meds can cause it. It’s usually nothing to be worried about. It can be annoying for a little while, but after some time, the floaters sink to the bottom of the eye, and you can ignore them. But it would help if you still did routine check-ups, as they can signal that something worse is going on. If the eye floaters become unbearable, you can consider an invasive procedure, like laser therapy or a vitrectomy.