Visually, the colored spots and squiggles you see in the corner of your eye are called floaters. They run in front of your vision when you least expect it and then retreat whenever you try to get a good look at them. In actuality, floaters are small bits of debris trapped in your vitreous. “Vitreous” is the jelly-like substance that helps your eye maintain its natural shape. As you age, the vitreous in your eye loses its form. It sags away from the inside of your eye and clumps on a microscopic level. Normally, these clumps are the debris, but the debris can also be protein leftover from when you were born. When light from the outside catches the debris in your eye, the debris casts shadows. These shadows are the floaters that you see. Most eye floaters are harmless, but some are a sign of a big problem.

Age is the normal cause of floaters, but it’s not the only one. Floaters can happen when the vitreous detaches from the retina. Once the vitreous has left the optic nerve, this detachment will cause you to see a temporary ring-shaped floater. Vitreous leaving the retina can harmful in some cases. If the vitreous pulls away from the retina with enough force, it’ll tear it. If this isn’t treated by a doctor immediately, the buildup of fluid behind your retina can cause it separate from the back of your eye. The separation will inevitably lead to blindness. A sudden and drastic increase in eye floaters indicates a retinal tear.

Your blood cells can enter your vitreous as floaters, too. This is caused by having a blocked blood vessel, an injury, hyperextension, or something like diabetes can be the cause of this. Inflammation in the back of the eye is another reason you would see floaters.

As stated before, most eye floaters are harmless. They don’t need any treatment; they’ll just annoy or amuse you for a little bit. Give them some time, and it’ll be like they don’t even exist. If your floaters are so bad that they’re clouding your vision, however, it is imperative you seek medical attention immediately. A doctor will more than likely recommend one of two treatments: Laser therapy, or surgery.

Laser therapy involves your doctor directing a laser at the debris in your eye. The laser forces the debris to break apart, thus breaking apart your floaters and making them near invisible. It would be wise to keep in mind that this treatment still hasn’t been perfected yet. It’s helped some patients overcome the floaters, but others have come out of the surgery with barely any changes at all.

Surgery is more straightforward. The procedure is called “vitrectomy,” and it involves your doctor giving your eye a small incision so that they can remove the vitreous jelly personally. Removal will effectively take any floaters you have. Your doctor will then replace the jelly with a similar substance. Over time, your body will reproduce natural vitreous and replace the artificial material with it.

Experiencing eye floaters and live near Centralia? Contact Innovations in Eyecare today at (360) 736-7385