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Have you ever seen little specks floating around in your vision, and no amount of blinking makes them go away? These are called “floaters”. They can be mild, almost unnoticeable, or quite noticeable and annoying. Most floaters require no treatment, sometimes eventually resolving themselves; however, sometimes floaters can be an important sign of a serious eye conditions.

Some floaters occur naturally within the eye, especially as we age. Floaters are not on the surface of they eye as they may appear, but in the interior of the eye. The most common form of a floater consists of protein fibers in the vitreous that clump together. These clumps block the light that enters your eye, resulting in a shadow on your retina. These shadows then appear as floaters, moving with your vision. Floaters are generally most visible when looking at a blank wall, a computer screen or at the clear blue sky.

Although they are harmless themselves, floaters can signify a bigger problem. Conditions such as retinal detachment, inflammation and bleeding can cause floaters to suddenly appear, and can cause serious vision damage if ignored. It is important to go to your ophthalmologist immediately if you experience new floaters or a sudden increase in the number of floaters that you have. Floaters are sometimes accompanied by “flashes” of light.

Floaters can look like small rings, cobwebs, specks, straight or curved lines. Some may see one or two, others may see many more than that. To most people, they appear light or dark grey. The density of eye floaters depends on each individual eye.

Are floaters treatable?

Floaters cannot always be treated, and most of the time they do not need to be treated. Those with severe floaters that may make life difficult can either undergo a procedure called YAG laser surgery, or a vitrectomy.

The YAG Laser is a procedure, where a laser is used to obliterate the floaters. The YAG laser surgery may only be able to treat some of your floaters, as some types of floaters are not as easily removed.

During a vitrectomy, portions of the vitreous containing the floater are removed. Once removed, the space is eventually filled with natural fluid.

If you are experiencing annoying floaters, contact OCLI to see if your floaters are treatable. If you experience a sudden increase in floaters, you may be experiencing a retinal detachment. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and should be brought to the attention of an ophthalmologist immediately. If you would like to schedule an eye examination, contact OCLI!

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