Should You Worry about Eye Floaters?
Everyone can remember that moment of panic when they first realized that there were mysterious shapes floating across their line of sight. It was a genuine feeling of fear as your mind raced with a range of questions: What are these things? Will they be there forever? Do I need to have surgery? These small spots, aptly known as floaters, were probably explained away to you with dubious-sounding pseudoscience that somehow comforted you into not asking any further questions. Although this may have satisfied your four year-old self, you’re a knowledge-thirsty adult now and you deserve to know the truth. So, should you worry about eye floaters?
What are floaters?
Floaters are small pieces of collagen, a protein found at the back of the eye inside the vitreous humor. As this substance degrades over time, the collagen fibers become shredded and collect within the vitreous which can block the retina and cause the appearance of floaters. Although floaters can appear at any age, they more commonly occur in individuals over the age of 50.
How do I know if I have floaters?
If you’ve noticed small shapes in your vision that seem to swim around your eyesight, they are probably eye floaters. These shapes tend to appear as small dots, threads, or rings which will move with your eyes and dodge your attempts at focusing on them. Floaters will unfortunately not disappear, but they will become less apparent over time.
Should I be worried?
Generally, floaters are benign and will not cause you any harm (besides being a minor annoyance). However, they may be indicative of more serious medical conditions such as:
- Retinal detachment or tearing
- Hemorrhaging of the vitreous humor
- Inflammation of the vitreous humor or retina
- Eye infection
These conditions are rare and medical attention should only be sought for floaters in certain scenarios. If your floaters get worse, change suddenly, cause pain, or develop after a surgery or trauma you should see a doctor immediately. If your floaters are accompanied by flashes of light, this can be due to retinal detachment, retinal tearing, or bleeding within the eye which could lead to permanent vision loss without treatment.
Still concerned about your eye floaters? Share your questions with us!