“Floaters” are those small spots you see in your vision from time to time. They can be dots, small lines or my personal favorite was when a patient said he had the “boot of Italy” in his eye! They are more apparent under certain lighting situations such as blue sky days or when looking at a white piece of paper.
They are caused by a liquefaction of a jelly-like substance in the back of your eye. When you are younger this substance if quite firm but becomes more liquid in time. What you are seeing are small fragments of collagen. If you experience a sudden increase in floaters, see flashing lights in your side vision or if you start to lose side vision, then call for an immediate appointment. This could mean that you have a tear in the delicate retinal tissue in the back of your eye. Should a tear occur, it may need laser treatment to prevent the retina from detaching.
While long-standing floaters are not sight threatening, they are annoying and stay around for months to years. This is a common complaint along with the question: “Can’t you do something about my floaters?” Some have consulted Doctor Internet and have found references to clinics promising to remove those pesky floaters with laser treatments.
A recent study cautions that you should beware of such claims. A September article in Ophthalmology, a respected medical journal, and was based on reports from Retinal specialists treating complications of this procedure. The complications from lasers used for floaters included early cataracts, increased eye pressure, retinal detachments, retinal hemorrhages and permanent loss of small portions of vision. So it appears that floaters are one of life’s annoyances that you cannot do much about without risking more serious vision problems.
Dr. Martha Jay is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist practice at Madison Medical Eye Care. She specializes in surgical and medical eye care including small incision cataract surgery and blade-free LASIK. For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.