Floaters, spots or shapes that move around your visual field, are a very common eye symptom. The occasional floater isn’t usually a serious issue, but a large amount of floaters can signal serious problems like retinal detachment. Eyecare MPLS in Minneapolis, Minnesota, experienced ophthalmologist Stella Hennen, MD, MSPH, offers all-encompassing eye care that includes comprehensive exams and treatment for floaters, cataracts, red eyes, and other eye problems. To learn more, book your appointment online or by calling the office.
Floaters are small spots in your visual field. They may look like specks, shapes, strands, or webs, and are most likely to appear when you're looking at a blank background, like a white wall.
It's not uncommon to see floaters occasionally, especially as you age. But, if you suddenly notice a lot of floaters at one time or if you also see flashes — bright streaks or flashes of light — you could have a serious eye emergency like retinal detachment and should call Eyecare MPLS immediately.
As you age, the gel-like material that fills your eye, the vitreous humor, starts changing. The vitreous can clump together in blobs or strands, and small pockets can appear. These changes cast shadows on your retina, which are the floaters.
Other reasons for floaters can include:
Back-of-eye inflammation, known as posterior uveitis, can cause debris release, which appears as floaters. Posterior uveitis is often tied to infections or systemic inflammatory disease.
When your inner-eye blood vessels leak, the blood cells in the vitreous can cause floaters. Some of the main reasons for bleeding in the eye include uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, and traumatic eye injury.
If your vitreous shrinks and tugs sharply on your retina, it can cause a tear. The tear can cause floaters and flashes. If you don't get help for a retinal tear, your retina can become detached. A detached retina is essentially peeled away from the back of your eye and is a medical emergency. Unless you get treatment, retinal detachment can lead to blindness.
If you have new floaters, it’s important to discuss it with Dr. Hennen as soon as possible. She can perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine whether you’re at risk for, or already suffering from, serious damage requiring immediate care.
It depends on the underlying cause. Many floaters are related to aging and aren't dangerous, so they don't require treatment. If you have floaters because of a controllable condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, strict disease management can potentially stop the floaters.
But, if your floaters are severe, you could need surgery to removes your vitreous humor. Laser therapy may be an option as well.
To learn more about your treatment options for floaters, call Eyecare MPLS or use the online booking tool.
Disclaimer: This information is not comprehensive to cover all your ophthalmology needs. Call the office to book an appointment to discuss your condition with Dr. Hennen.