Floaters and Flashes Eye Treatment in London
What are floaters?
Floaters are tiny shadows or tiny spots that you can see in your eye. They may move around as you move your eye and can come and go. They are particularly visible in bright light when looking at a blue sky or after cataract surgery when the vision is clearer make you able to see them better.
What causes them?
They are usually caused by age related changes in the jelly-like substance that is inside the eye. This substance is known as the vitreous gel or vitreous humor. As it becomes more liquid it separates from the retina eventually causing a posterior vitreous detachment which is normal. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Microscopic parts of the vitreous humour can clump casting a shadow on the retina of the eye that gives you the symptoms.
Those how have a medical condition known as diabetes mellitus or don't know they have it can develop floaters from the changes to the blood vessels within the eye which can cause them to leak. This is known as diabetic retinopathy and would require an assessment by your ophthalmologist.
Another rare cause a condition known as posterior uveitis which is inflammation at the back of the eye. This can be painless but it is important to see your eye doctor if you suspect you may have this condition.
Are floaters in the eye serious?
The dark spots tend to not be serious in most cases where the vision is not affected, there is no flash of light in the eye, they have been there for a long time, they are unchanged and not getting worse. Usually it is the sign of a vitreous detachment which is where the gel-like substance in the eye separates from the retina and these are normal age-related changes. Many people report seeing a round shape shadow in the eye which is where there has been vitreous shrink (vitreous syneresis) causing it to detach from the optic nerve and is normal unless it is new.
When should I worry?
If you develop symptoms of:
New flashes of light in the eye
Blurred vision, eye pain
A sudden increase in floaters
Dark shadows in your peripheral vision
You feel that your field of vision has decreased
If they appear after an injury to the eye.
These could potentially indicate a serious problem to the retina or the back of the eye and you should see your eye doctor urgently as it may require immediate medical attention. Potential injuries to the eye could be a retinal tear or retinal detachment.
A retinal tear can be treated with a simple laser procedure done by Mr Ahmad Aziz at his London eye clinic.
A detached retina can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. It would require a surgical procedure by retina specialist.
Rare cases of floaters with eye pain and a migraine headache could indicate acute angle glaucoma which can damage the optic nerve and lead visual loss if left untreated. This condition is considered to be a medical emergency.
Do they ever go away?
Those that are caused by vitreous change do become less noticeable with time although they may be more noticeable from time to time particularly when in bright light. The changes to the vitreous do not go away.
Can you get rid of floaters in your eyes?
Most ophthalmologists do not recommend any treatment options if they are not affecting your vision. If your floaters are having a significant impact on your quality of life and are not becoming less noticeable with time them some doctors may consider treatment with a YAG laser to break the floaters into smaller pieces. This is known as laser vitreolysis. This is not without risk to the retina and vision and is not an option that is routinely offered.
A surgical treatment option is to have a procedure called a vitrectomy to remove the floaters from the eye. This procedure is also not routinely offered as it is not without risk and is only considered if the symptoms are causing a significant impact to your quality of life.
Can stress cause them?
Many people feel that their symptoms are caused by stress. Stress can have a significant impact on your health but it is not a known cause of floaters.
Can dehydration cause them?
Dehydration may have a role to play and in theatre the vitreous gel may become dehydrating accelerating a vitreous detachment but it is most commonly due to age related changes to the eye.
Are eye floaters a sign of diabetes?
Vitreous floaters can definitely be a sign of diabetes and a condition known as diabetic retinopathy which would require an urgent assessment by your eye doctor.