Keep an Eye on your Floaters

Floaters are an odd thing about our vision. These see-through lines or strings seem to look like a specimen of pond water put under a microscope. But instead of a petri dish, they’re floating about in front of your vision, hence the name floater. When you’re looking at a detailed background, such as a forest of trees, you won’t see them. But it you look up at the clear blue sky above, your floaters will be swimming around against the plain background. It’s as if they’re alive because when you try and focus on an individual floater, it seems to swim or squirm out of the way, moving to the outer areas of your vision.

Floaters are another part of aging, as fibers clump within the vitreous gel on the inside of our eyes. They are harmless in most people, but a sudden increase in floaters can be a sign of retinal detachment, and you should see us at Central Valley Eye Medical Group immediately. Otherwise, if your floaters are becoming a perpetual distraction in your vision, our board-certified ophthalmologists can perform laser vitreolysis to remove the floaters.

What are floaters?

Eye floaters appear to be in the front of your eye, maybe on the lens. In reality, they are in the center of your eye’s interior. Our eyes are filled with vitreous, a jelly-like material that fills the inner eye. As we age, the gel becomes more liquid. When this happens, microscopic collagen fibers in the vitreous tend to clump together forming the shapes you see drifting in front of your vision. They appear to be in front of your eye, but the clumps are actually casting shadows onto the retina in the back. It is these shadows that we perceive as floaters.

Are there different types of floaters?

There are different types of floaters and they have different causes. Most can be treated with laser vitreolysis, although diffuse floaters usually need other treatment.

  • Fibrous strand floaters — These are most common in young people. They appear as multiple dots and/or string-like cobwebs. They form when there is clumping in the collagen fibers of the vitreous.
  • Diffuse floaters — These floaters look like small clouds. They are caused by aging and changes in the vitreous.
  • Weiss Ring floaters — These are large, fibrous floaters that are ring-shaped. They can be quite annoying due to their size. They are far enough away from the crystalline lens and the retina and can usually be effectively removed through laser vitreolysis.

What is laser vitreolysis like for the patient?

Laser vitreolysis with your Central Valley ophthalmologist is non-invasive and pain free. First, we place anesthetic eye drops into your eyes. There is no pain. You will notice small, dark specks and shadows during treatment. These are the floaters that are being evaporated and turned into small gas bubbles. The eye will absorb these bubbles quickly. After your session, we will place some anti-inflammatory eye drops in your eyes. It’s a pretty simple procedure.

Are you becoming annoyed by the increase in floaters that has occurred with the passing years? Come see us at our three Central Valley Eye Medical Group locations, and let’s see if vitreolysis would be right for you. Call us at (800) 244-9907 to make your appointment.

Posted in: Flashes & Floaters


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