Can you imagine something floating in your eyes? Well, for some people, this is not something they have to think about, it is their reality. Many people have eye floaters, and in this article, we will cover the causes of this condition.
As you age, a lot changes in your body. From the way you see to how you talk to walking patterns, you see some changes. If you compare what you did in the past to what you can do now, there is likely to be a change.
As you get older, the vitreous humor in your eye can contract and separate from the retina. This separation often takes place in people in their middle ages going up. As it happens, the vitreous can tug on the retina, creating traction that the brain interprets as light. If the separation is complete, the floaters increase.
Sometimes, the traction can create a tear in the retina such that fluids leak, leading to detachment. Note that retinal detachment can owe to several factors.
When this happens, you are likely to experience flashes, known as photopsia. This condition can affect anyone. For some people, all it takes is the rubbing of the eyes for the lightning-like flashes to start.
What causes floaters?
What causes floaters? Well. The most common cause is the contraction of the vitreous humor. Other reasons are as follows:
Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) can cause floaters
When you have this condition, the vitreous detaches from the retina on the back of your eye. It owes to changes in the vitreous gel. While the detachment may sound like a painful ordeal, it is not.
Also, this detachment does not result in the loss of eyesight. Instead, you experience disruptions in your sight, such as small dark spots and shapes. These are what we refer to as floaters. Other people experience flashing lights.
At first, the disruptions are very apparent and uncomfortable for the patient. Over time, the brain gets used to them such that you no longer see them as you did in the past. It does not mean that they are no longer there. It means that your brain has adapted to their presence. Your sight should thus be as good as it was before the detachment.
Have you heard of retinal detachment? Well, this is a more severe problem that requires early treatment to avoid the loss of sight. These two conditions have similar symptoms, and you should thus not leave any floaters be without medical care.
With retinal detachment, patients are at risk of losing part or all of the sight in the affected eye. The earlier you catch the condition, the sooner you can be rid of its possible effects.
Usually, you should consult a health professional within 24 hours of noticing the floaters. Sometimes, they could be indicative of a much more severe problem.
Now, here is the thing you need to note. A PVD is not often a cause for worry. However, for ten percent of the patients, a retinal tear is likely to occur.
If this goes untreated, it progresses into a retinal detachment. The takeaway here is that any changes in vision should not be taken lightly. An early diagnosis works to your advantage.
Causes of Posterior Vitreous Detachment
What is this vitreous that we have been talking about all this time? Well, it is the clear gel that fills your eye and maintains its shape. It is mainly water and collagen. When you focus your eyes on something, light moves from the front to the back of the eye to the retina.
The retina converts this light into signals which it sends to the brain. That is how you can view what is around you. Without this attachment, you can guess what would happen.
As you grow older, this gel becomes softer such that it becomes more watery and starts to lose its shape. As it does so, it detaches from the retina as it contracts towards the center of the eye. You may think that a contraction is an indication of an eye problem, but that is not the case. It only signifies that you are getting older.
In some cases, the detachment can happen earlier than the middle ages. These include where one has an injury or is short-sighted. However, for most people, this condition starts in their fifties going up.
Signs of detachment
How can you tell that you may have PVD? Well, the common symptom is the appearance of floaters. If you notice these, you could likely be going through a detachment. Also, if you already have floaters and notice they have increased, this is a reason for concern.
Some people experience flashes of light that disrupt their vision. When left undiagnosed, these could get worse. Others may have trouble seeing owing to blurred visions. While for some people, the floaters are distinct, others see a large floater barring their vision.
Remember that you should report any of these symptoms as soon as they appear to ensure they are not dangerous. As the condition progresses, your symptoms may increase.
For some people, the interruptions are very bothersome before they get used to them. Others can carry out their activities without giving much thought to the floaters. Symptoms last for different time lengths, depending on the patients. You may experience them for a few weeks while another person does so for months on end.
The time taken to adjust to the interruptions also differs. Some people will get used to the floaters within months, while others could take up to a year. If it takes too long to adjust, you may have to seek medical treatment. Additionally, if anything feels out of the norm, do not hesitate to get help.
Diagnosis of Posterior Vitreous Detachment
The ophthalmologist will use drops to dilate your pupils, which makes you more sensitive to light. It also affects your vision. However, this dilation is necessary for the doctor to check for any holes or tears in the retina. Once diagnosed with floaters, the doctor will advise you on the way forward.
Signs of PVD
Floaters are a primary symptom of this condition, and they are very common. Interestingly, you can have floaters even when you do not have PVD. We will cover other probable causes of floaters later. These are floating clumps of cells in the now watery vitreous.
You see them because they cast shadows when light enters the eye. They differ in shapes and sizes. That’s why some people will see clouds while others will see threads. They also vary in degree of movement, numbers, and interference.
Flashes of light are another symptom. As the vitreous detaches from the retina, the retina processes this as a flash of light. These flashes are more apparent in dim lighting or darkness. They are not as frequent as floaters, and they go away when the detachment is complete.
Dealing with floaters
The coping mechanism will depend on the size of the floater. Take a big mass, for example. In this case, you can move your eyes in circles to move the vitreous. In doing so, you can change the position of the mass and make it interfere less with your vision.
You can also wear prescription glasses, upon the advice of your doctor. In this way, you can focus more on objects as opposed to hindrances in your eyesight. The floaters will not go away, but they will become less noticeable.
Sunglasses aid a lot when you are in brightly lit conditions. They reduce the light entering the eyes. Remember that floaters occur due to the casting of shadows. With less light in the eyes, the shadows cast are faint. It makes it easier to ignore and adjust to the floating masses. You can try reducing brightness in rooms.
Also, when working on a computer screen, try reducing the light to reduce the intensity of the cast shadows.
Treatment of Posterior Vitreous Detachment
Can you prevent the occurrence of this attachment? The answer is no. There does not exist a treatment that can put an end to this condition. While you can use lifestyle changes and some exercises to alleviate the symptoms, they might not help.
Some people opt to have laser treatments or surgery to deal with the floaters. It can work, though the side effects are quite significant. You should thus consider your options before making a decision.
Floaters are not a hindrance to the carrying out of your usual activities. However, when the detachment starts, you need to take things slow. High impacts could result in retinal detachment, which can cause the loss of sight.
Once the condition stabilizes, you can engage in activities as you usually would. It will take some time to get used to the shadows, but after a while, you will hardly notice them. While at it, it helps to avoid any activities that could exacerbate the problem. Where in doubt, refer to your doctor for advice.
Some conditions exhibit the same symptoms as PVD, and you should thus be aware of them. They are as follows:
Later in this article, you will note that floaters can occur, even when PVD is not in play. It could be due to other eye conditions such as inflammation. Before assuming that you have PVD, check with a doctor to ascertain the cause of the floating masses. Early intervention is the key to timely treatment.
For some people, the vitreous detachment can pave the way for retinal tears. It owes to the firm attachment of the vitreous to the retina. As it moves away, it can cause a tear.
You should be on the lookout for any changes in your eyes. Where a tear remains untreated, it can lead to the loss of sight. While this is not a common occurrence, it helps to note that about 10% of PVD patients experience this.
The best way to avoid this is to seek medical help within 24 hours of experiencing a change in your eyes. That way, you can nip the problem in the bud.
Degenerative Vitreous Syndrome
In the case of PVD, the floaters arise owing to the detachment of the vitreous. However, in this condition, floaters can come about even without detachment. It owes to the softening of the vitreous. Over time, this condition can manifest as PVD when detachment takes place.
Retinal Detachment can cause floaters
This condition occurs when your retina detaches from the inside of the eye and thus stops working. Surgery can repair this before it becomes permanent and leads to a loss in eyesight. This detachment is an emergency and should, therefore, get treated as such.
The moment that you notice a change in your vision, you should consult a doctor. The degree of recovery often depends on what areas got affected by the detachment. The longer you wait, the more likely the negative impact of the same.
The retina receives light passing through the vitreous and sends this to the brain, which interprets the signals as images. It is thus vital that your retina remains attached. Without it working, the brain cannot receive the signals you rely on to see what’s around you.
Causes of retinal detachment
What would cause the retina to detach? Well, here are the main causative factors:
Tears or holes in the retina are a major culprit in this case. When these are present, fluids leak into the retinal layers, and this aids in the detachment process. Tears can occur owing to an impact on the retina, such as pulling and tearing.
An example would be when the vitreous separates from the retina. We covered that in PVD above. A hole, on the other hand, relates to age changes in your eyes.
Retinal detachment exhibits the same symptoms as PVD, only that the results, in this case, are more severe. You should thus contact your doctor if you experience a change in eyesight.
Scarring of tissue is another cause of detachment, and it can result from eye conditions. When scars form on the surface of the retina or inside the clear part of the eye, they cause traction. Thus tugging can lead to a detachment.
The other common cause is the leaking of fluids between the layers of the retina. This leaking can happen devoid of holes and tears and relates to fluids from blood vessels supplying the retina.
Often, this takes place when there are growths or irritation in the vessels or other parts of the eye. As is the case with scarring, it owes to eye conditions. It is thus in your best interest to get any eye changes checked out as soon as they occur.
Signs of retinal detachment
You can tell that you probably have this detachment if you experience floaters, shadows, blurred vision, and flashing lights. These are also consistent with PVD, and they could be harmless.
Note, however, that a retinal detachment can lead to the loss of eyesight. It is thus better to be safe by consulting a doctor on this matter. In this case, we will focus on floaters as a primary symptom.
These are bits of debris that float in your vitreous and cast a shadow on the retina. They are common in older adults and take up different sizes and shapes, as we had discussed above.
Diagnosis of retinal detachment
Within 24 hours of experiencing floaters or other related symptoms, you should consult your eye doctor. Retinal attachment is quite rare, and it affects one in ten thousand people. However, you cannot rule it out completely, more so as you get older.
Treatment of retinal detachment
The good news is that you can prevent the retinal attachment from completing. Prevention methods include the use of lasers or freezing treatments. In the case of lasers, beams work in attaching the retina to the back of the eye. Freezing connects the retina by freezing the tear or hole outside the eye.
When the detachment has started, you can rely on surgery to re-attach the retina. This treatment should take place fast to ensure that you enjoy good results. The longer you wait, the higher the chances are that you will lose vision in the affected eye.
The success of the surgery will depend on the level of detachment and whether the macula also detached. Other eye conditions also play a part in the success factor.
Posterior Uveitis can cause floaters
The uvea lies in the middle layer of the eye. This condition refers to an inflammation of the back part of the uvea, also known as the choroid. While this naming focuses on the uvea, it helps to note that the condition affects other parts of the eye. These include the retina and the vitreous, as we have mentioned in the earlier causes of floaters.
When inflammation occurs in the uvea, cells collect around the retina, and this can cause blurred vision in the form of masses. These are what we refer to as floaters. It takes time for this condition to progress, often taking years. Also, it persists for a long time.
Causes of Posterior Uveitis
The causative factors of this condition vary. Sometimes, the inflammation affects more than the uvea and is present in other parts of the body. Take an example of where one suffers from a systemic condition such as lupus.
In this case, the effects would be present in the eye and other parts. Some other infections, such as shingles, can lead to inflammation of the eye. However, in most cases, the causative factor is not usually apparent.
You are more at risk of having posterior uveitis if you have an autoimmune disorder. The same holds if you have a weakened immune system or have an underlying infection.
Signs of Posterior Uveitis
Floating objects in the patient’s vision are a symptom of this condition. Additionally, people experience blurred vision, light sensitivity, redness, tearing, and image distortion, among others.
Treatment of Posterior Uveitis
The timely treatment of this condition is of the essence. When left unmanaged, the inflammation could scar the eye and cause other problems, among them, vision loss. The sooner that you consult a doctor, the faster you can resolve the hindrance in vision.
The treatment mode will depend on the causative factor in question. In most cases, pills are necessary to bring down the inflammation. Where the condition is severe, the doctor may opt to inject some steroids into the eye.
In a case where the inflammation owes to a systemic disease, the doctor will prescribe drugs intended to treat the same. As of now, there are no guidelines in place to prevent the occurrence of this condition.
Vitreous Hemorrhage can cause floaters
This condition occurs when blood gets into the clear gel in your eye, also known as the vitreous. When this happens, the blood casts shadows on the light reaching the retina. Thus, image clarity gets affected as not enough light reaches the back of the eye.
In most cases, people with this condition see floaters in their eyes. Some also experience blurred vision and see dark spots in their images. If the blood is minimal, you will experience a surge in a dye that spreads over the eye slowly. It eventually fills the eye. Where the blood is a lot, there is a high chance that you would not see clearly.
Most people with this condition are only able to differentiate between the dark and the light. Other than that, they cannot see clearly.
Causes of Vitreous Hemorrhage
This bleeding occurs when blood vessels in the affected eye rupture, and blood leaks into the vitreous. Many factors can lead to the breakage of the vessels. One would be the growth of abnormal blood vessels. These are weak and rapture easily. Often, this growth occurs owing to other eye conditions.
Secondly, the tearing or detaching of a retina can cause ruptures in blood vessels. We have covered retinal detachment, and you can refer to it for causes of the same.
The third common cause is trauma to the eye. Maybe you have suffered a blow to your eye, leading to the breaking of the blood vessels.
Treatment of Vitreous Hemorrhage
In most cases, you will not require any treatment to deal with this condition, and it should go away on its own. When the blood clears up, you can see as clearly as you did in the past.
However, this clearing is not as easy as it sounds, and it could take several months. During this time, you should be under the watch of a doctor to monitor the situation.
In some cases, the blood does not clear up as expected, and surgery may be necessary. Here, the doctor replaces the vitreous with a similar solution. The degree of the treatment will depend on the cause of the leak.
Surgeries and medications
Some medicines injected into the vitreous can lead to the formation of air bubbles. Patients would see this as shadows until the eye absorbs the bubbles. These should go away with time. Where the issue persists, you should consult a doctor for some relief.
Symptoms of floaters
Floaters often appear as small shapes that hinder your vision. They could be dark or transparent, and they appear as floating masses. Floaters can also appear as spots that move as you move the eyeball. That way, when you try locating them, you cannot.
They can be more noticeable when you are in a brightly lit environment. Also, they can eventually settle and move out of your line of vision. In most cases, these are not a cause for concern, but you should not ignore them. Always seek medical attention.
Reasons for concern
You should talk to your doctor if you notice a change in your eyes. Changes include an increase in floaters, flashes in the affected eye, and darkness on the sides of the eye.
You should also be on the lookout for pain and loss of red reflex. Anything that is out of the norm should get treated as such.
People at risk of floaters
You are more likely to get floaters if you are aged fifty going up, are near-sighted, or have eye trauma. Complications from other diseases and recent surgeries could also put you at risk.
On their own, eye floaters are not a cause of concern. However, when accompanied by other symptoms, you need to consult a professional. Early intervention could prevent the loss of sight in the affected eye.