What are Floaters and Spots?
In the majority of instances, floaters and spots really are harmless. And believe it or not, as is the case for most individuals, floaters and spots have been present all throughout life. For some, the appearance of these tiny flecks may be a nuisance, but overall, they are simply a fact of life.
What has come to be known as floaters and spots are particles of protein that break apart and float around the clear, gel-like fluid within the eyes. Because they break apart, no two floaters or spots are like in shape or size. They can have ragged edges, they can appear as tiny threads or cobwebs, they can appear as black or white flecks, and they sometimes appear as flashes of light.
As mentioned previously, floaters and spots are present however they seem to be more noticeable when a person looks at a brightly-colored background such as a wall or the sky, or an image that does not have a pattern.
People ‘see’ floaters and spots because the gel-like substances create shadows on the retina. It’s usually not possible to focus on floaters and spots because they move around in sync with the eye’s movements.
Symptoms of Floaters and Spots
Since floaters and spots are always present but only sometimes visible, and because they are not considered a disease or even an eye problem, there are not any ‘symptoms’ associated with their presence. The only symptoms of floaters and spots are the minute obstructions they cause to a person’s vision.
Who is at risk?
At risk isn’t an appropriate term since floaters and spots generally are harmless. Most people have them and for most people, their presence is not an indication of a more serious situation. So every person could be considered ‘at risk’.
Their presence does tend to increase with age, after age 40, as the vitreous fluid starts to deteriorate. Their presence can also increase as a result of an eye inflammation or injury or the presence of an eye disease. Their presence is more noticeable for people who are nearsighted or have previously undergone surgery for cataracts.
Routine eye examinations are the best way to determine whether floaters and spots are harmless or whether their presence is an indication of a more serious problem within the eyes. Fortunately, the instances in which floaters and spots are being caused by an underlying eye condition are very rare.
An eye doctor has many tools for testing and examining the eyes. When a patient believes that the floaters and spots are impacting the field of vision, it is important to inform the eye doctor of this and to also be prepared to describe the ways in which vision is being affected. That way, the eye doctor can focus and repeat as necessary tests that determine the presence of other eye diseases and problems such as cataracts, glaucoma or detached retina.
There are no treatments for floaters and spots because their appearance is completely natural.