Floaters and Flashes
Floaters are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your
field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can
look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. They
move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to
look at them directly. They do not follow your eye movements
precisely, and usually drift when your eyes stop moving.
Most people have floaters and learn to ignore them; they are
usually not noticed until they become numerous or more
prominent. Floaters can become apparent when looking at
something bright, such as white paper or a blue sky.
A sudden increase in floaters, possibly accompanied by light
flashes or peripheral (side) vision loss, could indicate a retinal
detachment. A retinal detachment occurs when any part of the
retina, the eye's light-sensitive tissue, is lifted or pulled from
its normal position at the back wall of the eye.
A retinal detachment is a serious condition and should always
be considered an emergency. If left untreated, it can lead to
permanent visual impairment within two or three days or even
blindness in the eye.
Those who experience a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light in peripheral vision, or a
loss of peripheral vision should call Georgia Mountain Ophthalmology as soon as possible to
have Dr. Camp examine their eyes.
Floaters occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and
helps it maintain a round shape, slowly shrinks. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat
stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. These are floaters.
In most cases, floaters are part of the natural aging process and simply an annoyance. They can
be distracting at first, but eventually tend to "settle" at the bottom of the eye, becoming less
bothersome. They usually settle below the line of sight and do not go away completely.
However, there are other, more serious causes of floaters, including infection, inflammation
(uveitis), hemorrhaging, retinal tears, and injury to the eye.
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