Everyone has probably encountered eye floaters at least once in their lives. They manifest as tiny spots or flecks drifting around in your field of vision and appear when tiny pieces of the eye’s gel-like vitreous fluid break lose in the back area of the eye. These are very common and no cause for alarm.
Concerned about floaters in your eyes ? Please read further:
As we age, the vitreous fluid in the eye will become more watery and less gel-like inconsistency. As time goes on, you will encounter more and more floaters over time.
You can see these floaters when you look up at an overcast sky or any light-coloured background. The floaters you see are actually shadows cast on the retina by these floaters. They also give the illusion of drifting because they are literally floating around in your eye fluids.
When should I be worried?
A few long standing floaters ( over three months old) here and there is unlikley to be a cause for concern. Only when you see a new recent occurence of floaters should you visit an eye care professional as soon as possible, if they are accompanied by flashes of light or not. The new floaters may be accompanied by flashes of light, but not always. Sometimes its only Flashes or Floaters which may indicate your retina is at risk. The sudden appearance of either of these symptoms could be a sign that your vitreous gelly is pulling away from the retina—a condition known as posterior vitreous detachment.
It could also mean that the retina itself is being dislodged from the eye’s inner lining, cutting off the supply of blood from the retina. This can happen as the vitreous gel tugs on the delicate retina, causing a small tear or hole. If the retina tears, vitreous fluid can enter the opening and push the retina farther and farther away from the back of the eye’s inner lining. This is a condition known as retinal detachment.
Posterior vitreous detachments (PVDs) are more common than retinal detachments. The former does not always lead to an emergency, but should still be cause for some concern. This should be examined as soon as possible just in case it leads to a retinal detachment.
What causes the light flashes?
Photopsias or light flashes in the eye can occur when the retina receives mechanical stimulation. This stimulation can be tugging, tearing, distortion or detachment and can be perceived as lightning bolts, flickering lights, or random sparks.
What can cause these detachments?
As the eye ages, the vitreous gel contracts and changes into liquid inside the eye. This gel will become more watery, causing the structure of the surrounding vitreous gel to fall apart over time from the weight. After a while, the surrounding vitreous fluid will separate from the retina. this process is called a posterior vitreous detachment or PVD.
This is when a patient will begin to notice more and more floaters, usually later in their lives. The average person experiencing a posterior vitreous detachment is around the age of 65. Not all PVD cases result in a torn or detached retina due to the traction of the gell part of the vitreous.
As we’ve mentioned repeatedly, floaters are generally innocent, however they may lead to a retinal tear. If you do experience a sudden surge in floaters and or see lights flashes in your vision, that is a sure sign that you need to consult an optometrist.
If you are already looking for an optometrist near Colchester in Essex, send us at skopticians a message. We have the expertise to assess your retinas with respect to a possible break or tear.