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Why are there Floaters in My Vision?

Depending on your age and eye medical history, you may have noticed a few or many floaters in your vision. Floaters are black dots or squiggles that you may see moving around in your vision, more obvious when you look at a light background or are somewhere with high illumination. When you move your eyes, they move with your gaze. These form in the vitreous humour, the gelatinous filling near the back of the eye. Often, we have a few floaters that our visual system gets used to with time, but there are also reasons why new floaters might appear later on in life. Some of these are normal, and some can be signs of something wrong in the eyes. Read on to learn about some common causes of floaters.

Posterior Vitreous Detachments (PVD)

The most common, and most harmless, reason to develop a new floater is the change in composition of the vitreous with age. As we grow older, this gel becomes more liquid-like and shrinks, pulling back from the retina and forming pockets of material that become a floater, or a posterior vitreous detachment. You may have some floaters even when you are young, but as we grow older you will always acquire more. Gradually seeing some more floaters in your vision through the years is normal, but there are other symptoms that can accompany them that signal something wrong with your eyes, and these will be explained below.

 

Vitreous and Preretinal Hemorrhage

When the vitreous pulls away from the retina with age, as explained above, sometimes it can tear blood vessels in the retina and lead to some bleeding that will show up as floaters in your vision. This bleeding can also result from trauma or other disease processes going on in the body, such as diabetes, sickle cell disease, or blood vessel blockages. These diseases can cause new, fragile blood vessels to grow from the retina into the vitreous, and these can then easily bleed to block vision.

Any bleeding like these described will cause a sudden and dramatic increase in the number and size of floaters in your vision and can completely block your vision if a full vitreous hemorrhage occurs. This can last for 2-3 months while the blood is cleared from the eyes. This shows the need to protect your eyes from trauma and to get your eyes checked regularly with one of our eye doctors, especially if you have underlying medical conditions that can manifest in the eyes.

Retinal Breaks and Floaters

A retinal break, tear, or detachment (retina peeling off) is the most urgent cause for sudden formation of floaters. Other symptoms often accompany this, such as lightning flashes of light in one’s vision, a foggy film appearance to vision in one eye, or the appearance of a dark curtain over one’s vision. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see one of our eye doctors immediately, as you may require urgent surgery in the coming days to prevent you from losing vision in that eye.

 

Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about floaters and vit.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

Why Do I Have Floaters and Flashing Lights in My Vision?

Many people experience strange visual phenomena such as flashes of light or strange “floaters” in their vision.  These visual experiences can be alarming and confusing, especially the first time they are noticed. In most cases, these symptoms are indicative of a normal aging process occurring within the eye.  However, occasionally they can be a sign of a more serious condition affecting the retina.  If you notice these symptoms, you should talk to your optometrist.  Continue reading to learn more about these symptoms and what they mean.  

 

Floaters

“Floaters” is the term that eye care professionals use to describe dark spots or strands that drift through vision.  Some people describe floaters as seeing bugs or cobwebs float in front of them.  In reality, floaters are the result of changes occurring within the eye.  The inside of the eye is filled with a gel-like structure called the vitreous, which plays an important role in giving the eye shape and structure.  When we are young, the vitreous is a thick gel, almost the consistency of gelatin; however, it slowly begins to liquefy over time.  Sometimes clumps of gel will remain as the rest of the vitreous becomes increasingly watery.  These clumps will cast shadows on the back of the eye, and we perceive them as floaters.  While floaters can be distracting or annoying, they are generally harmless and do not require any treatment.  Most people find that floaters become less noticeable over time.  

 

Flashing Lights and Vitreous Detachments

Noticing flashes of light can be another sign of common changes affecting the vitreous. These flashes of light will typically occur in the periphery, and they might appear like a bolt of lightning or a flashing camera.  Flashes are caused by traction between the vitreous and the retina.  The vitreous is lightly attached to several areas of the retina, but when the gel slowly begins to liquefy, it pulls away from the retina and creates areas of tension.  This stimulates the cells inside the retina which detect light, so the brain perceives a bright flash.  This process is called a posterior vitreous detachment, or a PVD.  Flashes of light can be noticed sporadically throughout a PVD, and they should decrease in frequency as the vitreous eventually becomes completely unattached from the retina.  It is relatively common to experience the symptoms of a PVD, and the process is increasingly likely with old age.  

 

Risks of Flashes and Floaters

Symptoms such as floaters and flashes occur in many people, and most of the time they are benign findings.  However, a PVD can carry some risks involving the retina.  During a PVD, there is a very small chance that the traction between the vitreous and the retinal tissue can result in a tear to the retina.  If left untreated this can cause serious complications, such as a retinal detachment.  Symptoms such as an increase in flashes or floaters, or the perception of a curtain or veil over your vision should always be evaluated by your eye doctor.  The doctor can dilate your eyes to assess the retina and make sure there are no risks to your vision. 

 

Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about flashes (ie: flashing lights) and floaters in your vision.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in the Midtown and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.