Mostly harmless, floaters often appear in your field of vision as a result of the normal aging process within your eyes. However, a sudden increase in floaters may indicate a more serious eye problem. At New York Retina and Macula Institute, with New York City offices in Midtown East Manhattan and Borough Park in Brooklyn, Aryeh L. Pollack, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist who expertly evaluates your overall eye health to determine if floaters are the sign of a condition that requires treatment. If you’re seeing more floaters than usual, contact either office by phone or book the next available appointment online.
Floaters are spots in your vision that appear like dark specks, strings, or cobwebs that drift in and out of your line of sight. They’re most noticeable when you look at a plain backdrop, like a blue sky or a white sheet of paper. Most floaters are the result of age-related changes to your eyes that cause the gel-like substance – vitreous – in your eye to become more liquidy.
When this happens, microscopic fibers in the vitreous clump together and cast a shadow on your retina. Your eye interprets these tiny shadows as floaters.
Most of the time, floaters are not a cause for concern, but if you suddenly experience an increase in the number of floaters in your field of vision accompanied by flashes of light or peripheral vision loss, it may indicate a more serious problem called retinal detachment.
Retinal detachment occurs when part of your retina – the eye’s light-sensitive tissue – lifts away from its proper position at the back of your eye. An onset of floaters and light flashes are symptoms of this serious condition that could lead to vision loss if left untreated.
If you experience other symptoms along with floaters, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dr. Pollack of New York Retina and Macula Institute is a retinal surgeon and vitreoretinal specialist, so he has the expertise to diagnose and determine the underlying cause of your floaters.
Since most eye floaters are a result of the aging process in which the vitreous in your eye changes consistency, if you’re over 50 years old, you’re at higher risk for floaters. Other risk factors include:
Floaters are typically harmless, albeit annoying. However, if they interfere with your vision, Dr. Pollack may recommend a vitrectomy – a surgical procedure to remove the vitreous from your eye, along with the floating debris.
If you’re concerned about floaters or you experience a sudden onset of them or an increased number, call New York Retina and Macula Institute to schedule an appointment. You can also use the online scheduling system.