What are Eye Floaters?

09 Dec 2013

Lots of patients ask the Optometrists at Optilase - what are those small black dots jumping around my field of vision? They’re commonly referred to as ‘floaters’.

 

Most people will experience ‘floaters’ in their line of sight at random intervals, usually after entering a bright room when the eye has to suddenly adjust to a dramatic shift in light levels.

 

The perception of these specks or tiny dots that dance around in front of your eyes and tend to disappear after a little while is known as myodesopsia.

Are eye floaters normal?

Myodesopsia is pretty common and floaters are typically harmless, but if the frequency of eye floaters increases or they start to negatively impact on your lifestyle, such as affecting your ability to read or drive, then you should contact your optician.

 

If the appearance of floaters is accompanied by flashes of light and/or loss of peripheral vision, this could be an indicator that there may be a problem with your retina.

What causes eye floaters?

Floaters are formed in the vitreous humor, which is the clear, gel-like substance located between the lens and the retina that gives the eyeball its shape.

 

The vitreous humor changes in consistency with age, and it gradually loses its clarity and becomes more fluid-like.

 

When tiny protein particles of the vitreous clump together they give rise to floaters – and they do exactly as the name suggests: they float around.

 

Why do I see black dots?

What you actually see are not the floaters themselves, but the shadows cast onto the retina from the congregated pieces of gel when light enters the eye. Floaters dart around in your line of vision which reflects the rapid movement in the eye.

 

Is there any way to avoid eye floaters?

Floaters do not affect everyone and tend to disperse and settle after a few moments, but avoid the temptation to rub your eyes when they appear.

 

Also if you take part in any contact sports, make sure you wear the correct protective headgear to minimize any knocks to the head or face. Eye floaters are not indicative of a refractive error so they do not affect the power of sight.

 

For more information refractive errors and options available for treatment, call Optilase to book your free consultation on +353 1 223 8821.

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