If you’re plagued with spots or strings, you may be wondering what these mysterious objects are and why they occur. They are known as “floaters.” Here are some ideas of why they happen and what you can do to help them.

It is the easiest to spot floaters when looking at a blank background, such as an unclouded sky or a blank wall. The floaters – which can look like strings, cobwebs, or small dots – are actually small bits of vitreous humour (the gel inside the back of your eye) that have lost a bit of their viscosity; in other words, they begin to break down. These liquid-like materials cling together and tend to cast shadows on the retina, which we interpret as floaters. Because they are not true images, we are unable to focus on them and they appear to float in one general area of the eye.

Most of the time, floaters are not dangerous. They are definitely a nuisance, but typically don’t cause harm to your eye. They most often occur with age, but can appear if your eyes experience trauma, if you are nearsighted, or if you have recently had a cataract procedure.

However, if you have a significant increase in floaters, or floaters along with flashes of light and any changes in your peripheral vision, consult your ophthalmology team immediately because this may be a sign of a retinal tear and a possible retinal detachment.

For patients with floaters that impede their vision to the point where they are unable to drive or function normally, a procedure known as a vitrectomy is available. In this procedure, the vitreous humour, the gel in the eye, is removed. The floaters within the gel leave with it. The eye has to re-create the missing vitreous humour, a process that takes a little more than a week. With a new supply of vitreous humour, the floaters should all float away.

In 1996, Orlando ophthalmologist, Dr. Magruder, opened his practice and introduced locals to Central Florida’s first refractive surgery center. Since then, he has continued to innovate by introducing game-changing technology and pursuing ongoing education to master the latest techniques. To learn more about what the Orlando ophthalmologists at Magruder Laser Vision can do for you, call us at (407) 843-5665 or read our blog for more information!