Vision Floaters: When Should You See an Eye Doctor?

Vision floaters are the small dark spots, lines, or other shapes you may see floating around in your eyes. Most of the time they are harmless, and simply annoying. Floaters tend to move away if you try to focus on them, but they normally don't interfere with your sight. However, in some cases, you should contact an eye doctor about your floaters. Here's what you need to know.

What Are Vision Floaters

Eye floaters are different shapes including the following:

  • • Black or gray spots
  • • Threadlike strands
  • • Squiggly lines that are almost transparent
  • • Cobwebs
  • • Rings

Typically, they are small, dark shapes in your vision that appear as specks or strings of transparent floating material. They usually move as you move your eyes, so they move out of sight if you try to look at them, but you see shapes and strings that drift in and out of your line of vision. They tend to be the most noticeable when looking at a plain bright background.

What Causes Floaters?

Age is the most common reason a person gets floaters. Your eyes contain a gel-like substance that makes up the eye's round shape. As you age, the gel becomes more liquid and bits of protein, called collagen, shred and clump together. The clumps cast shadows on your retina, and these protein fibers are the floaters. Very nearsighted people, and those who have had cataract surgery, are more prone to floaters than others.

When to See a Doctor

If you have so many floaters that they block your vision, you should see an eye doctor. Your doctor may want to remove the vitreous and replace it with a saline solution. Similarly, if you have a sudden increase in eye floaters, see flashes of light, or lose your peripheral vision, call your doctor immediately. These can be symptoms of emergency, and complications can include a detached or torn retina as well as possible permanent loss of vision.

To be on the safe side, you should always see a doctor if you have floaters. They can indicate that the following issues are happening:

  • • Inflammation in the back of the eye
  • • Bleeding in the eye, possibly caused by injury, diabetes, hypertension, or blocked blood vessels
  • • A torn retina, sometimes caused by a sagging vitreous which can lead to retinal detachment. A retinal break is a serious medical emergency, but if you see an eye doctor, they can save your vision.

In some cases, floaters are nothing to worry about. They come and go and are usually harmless. However, in other cases, they need treatment, and you should contact an eye doctor as soon as possible. An eye doctor can assess if the floaters are concerning, and then, they can help you develop a care plan.

At New Vision Eye Center, all of our doctors are board certified with the American Board of Ophthalmology. They can expertly handle a wide range of vision issues, by providing world-class eye care on the Treasure Coast. Call us at 772-257-8700 to make an appointment today or contact us online.