You may find random floaters annoying, but they’re not dangerous as long as they disappear and you don’t also have flashes of light. If you do, those are the signs of a potentially dangerous eye problem that should be examined by Dr. Jeevan Mathura or Dr. Lindsay Smithen at Retina & Macular Disease Specialists. You can schedule an exam any time floaters become bothersome, but be sure to call their office in Arlington, Virginia, or book an appointment online when you experience a shower of floaters or flashes of light.
Floaters are small, shadowy shapes that look like a strand of thread, a spot, or a squiggly line. They appear as little, shadowy shapes that look like a strand of thread, a spot, or a squiggly line.
Floaters also seem to drift across your field of vision. When you stay still to focus on them, they disappear because floaters follow eye movement.
A gel-like fluid called vitreous fills the inside of your eye. When light enters your eye, it passes through the vitreous on its way to the retina.
Over time, the vitreous thins out and becomes stringy or develops clumps of gel. You see these clusters and strings as floaters when they get in the way of light passing through your eye and cast a shadow on the retina.
You’re more likely to develop floaters as you age, are nearsighted, have had surgery for cataracts, or if you have a history of:
Floaters aren’t dangerous. They eventually sink to the bottom of your eye and settle in an area that’s below your line of vision. Floaters can, however, be a sign that you have a torn retina, an eye injury, bleeding, or inflammation.
Call your doctor at Retina & Macular Disease Specialists immediately if you notice a sudden increase in floaters, you have flashes of light, or you suddenly lose peripheral vision. These are the symptoms of retinal detachment, which must be repaired quickly to prevent vision loss.
Floaters often don’t need treatment until they start to interfere with your vision. When they become a problem, there are two treatments possible. The treatment that’s best for you depends on factors like your age and the size and location of your floaters:
A laser precisely targets the floaters, then breaks them apart or vaporizes them. This procedure is possible when the floaters aren’t too close to your retina.
Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure that removes some or all of the vitreous and replaces it with clear fluid. This procedure is considered in cases where floaters block your vision.