Floaters

Floaters

The eye doctors at Duquette Family Eye Care offer evaluation and diagnosis of floaters and flashes. Floaters are an eye condition that can be an annoyance and may even be frightening. Floaters may appear as tiny specks or cobwebsor as small dark shadows, thread-likestrands or even squigglylines that actually float around in your field of vision. They tend to move as your eyes move, but not necessarily in the same direction, and often just drift away when your eyes stop moving.

Generally, floaters are a normal and expected consequence of the aging process of your eyes. In most cases, if left alone, they will settleand no longer be annoying. Most patients are able to simply ignore their presence unless they become greater in number or prominence. Typically they become more noticeable when looking at a visual field with a white background such as a plain piece of paper or a clear blue sky. The back of the eyeis filled with a gel-like substance called the Vitreous. As we age, the normally gel like Vitreous tends to shrink and become somewhat stringy. These strands of Vitreous can actually cast shadows on the retina and create the appearance of floaters. The likelihood of experiencing floaters increases as we get older and is more common if you are very nearsighted or have diabetes. Sometimes other eye conditions or problems inside the eye may cause floaters such as infections, inflammation, hemorrhages, retinal tears, or trauma to the eye. Occasionally, a small section of the Vitreous gel may pull away from the retina all at once instead of slowly and gradually, resulting in a noticeable and sudden increase in the number of floaters that you see and can be frightening. This is called a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) and is NOT sight threatening.

However, if light flashes, shadows, or a distortion or a decrease in your side vision accompanies floaters, it could be a Retinal Detachment, which IS a sight threatening medical emergency. If you experience any of these symptoms you should call Duquette Family Eye Care at 401-769-6323 and tell the receptionist or doctor on call that you need an appointment immediately.

After a thorough dilated eye examination at Duquette Family Eye Care, we will be able to diagnose whether your floaters are part of normal aging or due to a more serious and possibly sight-threatening problem. If the flashes and floaters are simply a sign of a PVD, and no other problem is present, then no treatment is necessary. The flashes are likely to go away on their own within a few days or weeks. Floaters may take weeks or months to diminish, and may not completely go away. We may need to re-examine and monitor you within 4-6 weeks or more often if you become increasingly symptomatic.