Seeing Floaters in Your Vision? Here’s What to Know...

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Have you ever noticed strange floating spots in your vision that look like tiny flecks, spots, rings or strings? These are called floaters and are especially noticeable when looking at plain, bright backgrounds, like a white wall or a bright blue sky. While floaters may come and go throughout the day, you may be wondering why they appear in your vision and if they are safe. Read on to find out more about floaters and how to address them.

What are floaters and what causes them?

The majority of floaters are caused by changes in the eye’s vitreous that occur with aging and are not cause for concern. The vitreous is a jellylike substance in the eye that helps the eye maintain its round shape. Millions of fibers in the eye are intertwined through the vitreous and connect to the retina, which is where the nerves that are sensitive to light are found in the eye. As we age, the vitreous becomes more liquid and shrinks, which allows the tiny fibers to clump together and pull away from the retina. As these pull, they can break and cause the vitreous to detach from the retina, causing floaters, which are medically referred to as posterior vitreous detachment, or PVD. Floaters also can form if you have certain risk factors such as diabetes, nearsightedness or retinal tears or detachment.

How can I get rid of floaters?

If you have floaters, it is important to have them evaluated by an experienced ophthalmologist. Dr. Alison R. Tendler, ophthalmologist and owner of ART Vision, has the technology and expertise necessary to treat many types of floaters. Depending on the cause of your floaters, she may suggest treatment options such as a YAG laser vitreolysis, which is a safe and painless laser procedure used to break down the floaters into a gas that is reabsorbed by the eye. Many patients report a 60 percent to 90 percent improvement in symptoms after one or more  treatments, and laser treatments can be repeated if needed. If the PVD or floater does not appear to be manageable by the YAG laser, patients may need to be referred to a specialist in vitrectomy, or removal of the vitreous. It also is important to have regular eye exams to monitor the progression of your floaters and make sure no other conditions are causing them.

Are floaters dangerous?

Floaters often can be annoying and distracting, but in most cases, they are not dangerous or harmful. However, it is important to be aware of symptoms that could signify a sight-threatening emergency. If you notice sudden flashes of light associated with a large number of new floaters or experience vision loss that seems like a shade being pulled across your field of vision, this could be a sign of an emergency. If not treated promptly, it can lead to a retinal tear or detachment, both of which require urgent medical care.

If you are troubled by floaters, contact ART Vision at 605-306-2020 to schedule a comprehensive evaluation to learn how Dr. Alison R. Tendler and the ART Vision team can help you “See the World Better and See Yourself Better.”

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* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.