What are those floaty things in your eye?

Have you ever seen drifting bugs, spots, or shadows in your vision? These are known as visual floaters. The scientific name for these is Muscae Volitantes. Check out the image below to see how they look like:- 

Visual Floaters
Visual Floaters
Image Source- Wikipedia 

Visual floaters are actually one of the more common complaints that an eye doctor hears about every single day and if you've never experienced them they show up as little spots just like gnats or bugs that seemed to drift or move out of our vision as well as cobwebs that when you try to look at them they seem to always drift and move out of your way so you can never quite catch up with them.

When these are a new experience for somebody that can be pretty scary right anytime our vision changes or if something like we're getting spots in our vision, it kind of gives us that instinct fear that we might be going blind and even with that being said people tend to ignore coming in to see the eye doctor to get the professional opinion of what's going on people just they just don't know about it and they tend to just think oh it'll get better on its own

  • Floaters are a normal part of Aging.
  • Risk of a retinal tear or a retinal attachment.
  • Treatment of Floaters.

#1. Floaters are a normal part of Aging

Main Layers of eye, Visual Floaters
Eye Diagram
Image Source- Wikipedia

There's this gel that sits inside the eye we call it the vitreous humor and it takes about 90% of the eyes volume to keep the eyes shape and acts almost like a cushion for the eye in any sort of episode of trauma.

This gel actually degrades over time into more of a liquid when that happens the pieces of the collagen of the gel that are left start to form little deposits and strands and they sit inside that liquid.

And that's what gives us that floating appearance as it kind of drifts back and forth.
When light enters the eye and hits those deposits it causes light to scatter giving us kind of a shadow image onto the retina on the back of the eye and that's exactly why we see floaters the way that we do.

Again floaters are a normal part of Aging and if you hit around the age of60 or higher you already have a 25% chance of having these floaters and if you reach the age of 80 you're at about 66% chance. But it's not just due to age there are some eye conditions that predispose you to have these floaters earlier on such as being very nearsighted.

Floaters are generally a normal experience for everyone as we get older and even more so for people who have a higher prescription

#2. Risk of a retinal tear or a retinal detachment

The gel that's inside the eye has an outer layer that's made of more collagen, we call that the vitreous cortex, and it kind of acts like a shell but it's attached to the retina on the very back surface of the eye and as that gel starts to degrade and turn more into a liquid it peels away from the back of the retina and occasionally it can tug on the retina typically 

The outer edges starting off and when that happens it kind of acts like you're pulling onto a poster off of the wall and it can actually cause a little tear a complete hole or it can even rip off the entire retina from the back of the eye completely and recall that a retinal detachment and is a true ocular emergency.

Now sometimes there is no warning sign of a retinal tear or detachment but frequently people come in they start complaining that-
  • Sudden onset of new floaters.
  • Visions blurry,
  • A bright flash of light in their eyes.

That occurs because that's kind of that peeling of the back of the eye from the retina causes a physiological excitation of the retina and our brain interprets that like a flash of light now if you're experiencing any of those signs and symptoms and you haven't talked to your doctor already -
you need to call your eye doctor make an appointment to be seen because this can be the signs of that tear or detachment and the sooner it gets identified and treated the better the outcome so don't put it off you only get two eyes take care of them.

Additionally because of those same peeling forces of the gel from the retina and the back of the eye there can be some other complications particularly when it comes to what's called the macula the macula is the central part of our retina that gives us our crystal-clear vision looking straight ahead.

If that gel starts to peel away from the macula it can tug on the macula and cause the development of what's called macular edema which are little cysts like developments within the retina causing our vision to be blurry and once it peels away another serious consequence is the development of a macular hole which is the same thing as the kind of the retinal hole off to the sides from the gel except it happens in the central macula so when you're looking straight ahead you can no longer see directly what you want to look at so it makes things very difficult for people to read or drive or see clearly, people may even become legally blind from that condition again all of these.

Different conditions that we mentioned can be identified and treated better when it's discovered earlier so don't hesitate to see your doctor if you're having these symptoms.

#3. Treatments of eye floaters

For floaters, there are generally three different treatments -

3.A Not really much of treatment but more of just observation most people's visual floaters are not serious enough to require treatment  they can be a little bit of a note a little bit annoying but over time those floaters Gently drift down due to gravity and out of your field of view or your brain just learns to adapt and get used to it

Other people thought these floaters can be really large and they can drift right in this front of the central part of your vision and it can stop you from seeing the board correctly when we're testing your eyes and it can prevent you from doing just you know the daily life activities that you enjoy even from things like –
  • Driving.
  • Going to work.

can be difficult for some people and those individuals are really good candidates for the other two treatments that are out there.

3.B Vitrectomy

This is the oldest type of procedure that we have for correcting floaters that's where they surgically remove the gel from inside the eye they suck it out while simultaneously putting a new fluid inside the eye to keep the eyes shape and keep the eye pressure the same with that they remove all the gel so all the floaters go with it

Risk Involves -

The downside and the reason why many doctors don't recommend this procedure

3.C Laser Procedure To Disrupt The Floaters -

This option actually came out pretty recently really what's going on is that the development of a new laser procedure where they can zap away the floaters inside the eye
So it's developed in Wisconsin by a surgeon who had been testing this out on patients and you know his success rate was incredibly high with a very low complication rate with that being said

It still may not be beneficial for everybody because of the location of the floaters may be the severity of other different eye diseases that you might have.