When are spots and floaters dangerous for your eyes?

Performance Eyecare in St. Louis and Swansea, IL can examine excessive spots and floaters in your eyes to determine if it's due to retinal detachment.

Spots and floaters are caused by bits of protein and other tissue embedded in the gel-like material that fills the eye, called vitreous.

The vitreous becomes more fluid and the spots and floaters move more easily within it as we age. Additional floaters may spring about when the vitreous detaches from the retina.

When should you be alarmed by the spots or floaters?

You should visit the eye doctors at Performance Eyecare when the floaters are accompanied by flashes of light. This could mean something serious is going on inside the eye and could cause a detached retina.

Normal floaters are when you have a few dots that come and go. That can simply depend on how tired you are or the type of lighting you’re in. You should seek immediate help from an eye doctor or emergency room if you see flashes of light, clouds of floaters or a curtain over part of your vision.

The good news is that most retinal detachments can be helped if treated soon. It’s important not to ignore these symptoms because they can lead to a loss of vision or blindness.

We recommend you visit us at Performance Eyecare if you see a lot of floaters. That will help us determine if you have a vitreous detachment (which just needs to be watched) or something more serious such as a retinal detachment.

Who is at risk for a retinal detachment?

Those who have suffered an injury to the eye or face or people with very high levels of nearsightedness. On rare occasions, retinal detachment may occur after LASIK surgery in highly nearsighted individuals.

Other causes of retinal detachments include cataract surgery, tumors, eye disease, diabetes and sickle cell disease.

Should I Worry About Eye Floaters?

What are Eye Floaters?

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Eye floaters are gray or black spots, squiggly lines, or cobweb-like shapes that drift across your field of vision as you move your eyes. While they may be annoying, they usually do not indicate a serious eye condition.

Causes of Eye Floaters:

Most floaters are the result of age-related changes in the eye. Our eyes are filled with a gel-like substance called vitreous. As we age, this gel can become partially liquefied. This causes collagen protein fibers in the vitreous to clump together and cast shadows on the retina. In rare cases, different eye diseases and disorders can cause floaters or flashbulb-like bursts of light, including

  • a detached or torn retina,
  • bleeding in the vitreous,
  • eye injuries,
  • diabetic retinopathy,
  • eye tumors, or
  • inflammation in the retina or vitreous.

When to See An Eye Doctor:

If you only have a few floaters that do not change over time or significantly interfere with your vision, you do not have to worry. In some instances, they may improve on their own with time. You can also try to move them out of your field of vision by moving your eyes up and down. You should see an eye care professional immediately if you notice

  • floaters associated with sudden flashes of light,
  • a sudden increase in the number of floaters,
  • floaters associated with eye pain,
  • floaters following eye surgery or trauma,
  • a loss of side vision, or
  • your symptoms worsen over time.

These symptoms can be indications of a detached retina or other serious conditions that can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated quickly.

Are Treatments Available For Eye Floaters?

In some instances, a laser can be used to break up large floaters so that they are less noticeable. If you have so many floaters that they significantly interfere with your vision, a surgical procedure is available in which the vitreous is removed and replaced with a saline solution.

Performance Eyecare is proud to offer preventative and emergency eye care services to patients in Creve Coeur, MO; Alton, IL; and Swansea, IL. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.