You may occasionally see small dots or blurred spots moving in your field of vision. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or the sky. Floaters are actually tiny bundles of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. Although the floaters appear to be in front of the eye, they are actually floating in the vitreous fluid inside the eye. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and allows you to see.
The vitreous is a clear gel that fills the posterior segment of the eye. As we age, the vitreous undergoes a gradual process of liquefaction, changing from gel to liquid. Ultimately, the outer portion of the residual gel separates from the retina. Retinal detachment is vision threatening emergencies and requires prompt treatment with laser and sometimes surgery. About 15% of eyes with flashes of light and floaters have a retinal tear and so it is important to schedule a retina examination at Orange County Retina if you experience a sudden onset of these symptoms.
What can be done about floaters?
Because you need to know if your retina is torn, call Orange County Retina offices if a new floater appears suddenly. Floaters can get in the way of clear vision, which may be quite annoying, especially if you are trying to read. You can try moving your eyes, looking up and then down to move the floaters out of the way. While some floaters may remain in your vision, many of them will diminish over time and become less troublesome. Even if you have had some floaters for years, you should have an eye examination immediately if you notice new ones.