The back cavity of the eye is filled with a gel-like substance called the vitreous (see diagram). The vitreous serves as a reservoir of molecules for the retina and lens to use and exchange in performing their cellular functions. It also acts as a shock absorber of sorts to help protect the delicate structures within the eye. Over time, or in very nearsighted eyes, the vitreous starts to lose its gel-like form and becomes more liquid, which creates a fluid motion of the vitreous with every eye and head movement. The proteins that were once suspended within the gel begin to aggregate and become visible to you as “floaters” as they cast a shadow on the retina while moving with the more fluid vitreous. Floaters are most often noticed under bright conditions – for example, looking at the bright blue sky, or a bright white wall, or even a computer screen. It is very normal to have a few floaters that you see from time to time drifting through your vision.
Floaters are of concern when they are new and numerous or accompanied by flashes of light in your peripheral vision and/or by a curtain obscuring part of your visual field. These could indicate a more serious eye problem including a retinal tear or detachment, both of which are true ocular emergencies. If left untreated or not promptly treated, they could lead to significant vision loss that is irreparable. The only way to rule out one of these more serious conditions associated with floaters and/or light flashes is to have a dilated eye health examination.
Front Range Eye Health Center, PC
Drs. Hale Kell, Cindy Beeks and Heather Gitchell
1220 Summit View Drive
Louisville, CO 80027
Author: Dr. Hale Kell
Front Range Eye Health Center, P.C.
1220 Summit View Drive, Louisville CO