Occasionally, people will see ‘spots’ floating in their vision. They may also experience flashes of light followed by a series of eye floaters. These events typically occur due to the normal aging process called vitreous detachment but may be a symptom of a retinal tear or a retinal detachment.
The vitreous gel is a thick, clear gel-like substance that fills the chamber in your eye from the iris to the retina. As we age, this gel has a tendency to shrink, causing it to pull away from the retina near the optic nerve. When this occurs, the gel will ‘tug’ on the retina causing quick flashes or “lightening streaks.” In cases where the gel pulls itself apart as it breaks away from the retina, you may see shadows cast by small bits and strands of vitreous gel. The shadows, or eye floaters, can be very aggravating but do not typically require medical attention.
In the most extreme cases, however, the gel tugging can cause the retina to tear away from its normal position. Retinal tearing is painless, so recognizing the symptoms of retinal detachment can be tough. If you experience a significant increase in eye floaters or you notice a gradual reduction in your peripheral vision, schedule a dilated eye examination immediately.
When undergoing an eye exam, the talented South Florida Ophthalmologists at All Saints Eye Centers will be able to determine the extent of your condition. In cases of retinal tear, immediate surgical treatment will be required to prevent complete loss of sight. In the more likely event that it is simply strands of vitreous gel causing the eye floaters, our vision care professionals will be able to recommend the best method of treatment from surgery to laser therapy.