If you suffer from vitreous strands and opacities (commonly referred to as “eye floaters”), then you are familiar with the frustrating visual disturbance caused by these cobweb and cloud-like shadows.
The vitreous humor is the clear, jelly-like substance in the main chamber of the eye, located between the lens and the retina.
At a young age, the vitreous is perfectly clear. As the eye ages, the vitreous can lose form and deteriorate. Once this occurs the vitreous begins to liquefy, which causes it to collapse. Without the stable vitreous humor, the collagen fibers collapse and bind together to form clumps and knots. These fibers cast shadows on the retina and appear as spots, strings, or cobwebs that are commonly referred to as “floaters”.
Causes of Floaters
Floaters are often a result of the normal aging process, but can also occur after any sudden head movement, such as sneezing, coughing, or falling down; or from straining during childbirth, lifting something heavy, or constipation.
- Floaters are little “cobwebs” or specks that float in your field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines.
- Floaters are created when the vitreous humor in our eyes deteriorates over time, collapsing. As this happens, cells may clump together and cast shadows on the eye’s retina. These shadows are known as “floaters”.
- Floaters are visible only because they do not remain fixed in location. If floaters were still instead of floating around, your brain would automatically ignore them and you would never see them. For example, you do not see the blood vessels in your eye, which are fixed in location, because your brain ignores them.
- Floaters are most noticeable in bright lights or against white backgrounds.
- Typically, a floater will not significantly change its shape or size during your lifetime.
- The perception of eye floaters is referred to as “myodesopsia”.
- While floaters do not generally affect your visual acuity, they can negatively affect your quality of vision.
- Floaters are more likely to develop as we age and they are more common in people who are very nearsighted or who have had cataract surgery.
- If you suddenly see a large number of floaters, possibly accompanied by some light flashes, you should see Dr. Dhaliwal or Dr. Bello immediately. These symptoms may be indicative of a retinal detachment.