Do Floaters Mean I Have Eye Damage?
Many people experience floaters or dark shadows in their field of vision. Floaters may appear as small particles or strings that slightly obstruct the vision. Floaters are not usually large enough to make vision impairment a real concern, but they can be a nuisance.
Floaters are often worrisome for those who experience them. It is natural to wonder, “Do floaters mean I have eye damage?” Here, the ophthalmologists at Monterey County Eye Associates, who serve individuals in Monterey, CA, Salinas, CA, and King City, CA, explain what floaters are, how to know when floaters may indicate a more severe eye condition, and what you should do when floaters appear.
What Are Floaters?
Floaters are loose clumps of collagen, gel, or cells from the vitreous inside the eye. Floaters create shadows on the retina that can appear as spots, threads, cobwebs, or squiggly lines across the field of vision. Floaters can appear at any time, but they are usually more noticeable when looking at a bright backdrop, such as a sunny sky.
Are Floaters a Cause for Concern?
Floaters alone should not be cause for concern. Although floaters are a symptom associated with several eye diseases, they have many causes that are not related to eye damage or serious eye problems. Floaters may be the result of dehydration, rubbing the eyes, eye fatigue, or normal aging. Many people get used to floaters and hardly notice them unless the condition worsens.
When Should I Contact An Ophthalmologist?
Floaters are not uncommon and are usually not a sign that eye health is threatened. Still, there are cases where floaters are a symptom of a more serious problem. It’s vital to recognize when floaters may be indicative of further issues. We encourage patients to contact our ophthalmologists to report floaters in the following situations:
- Floaters appear suddenly for the first time
- There is a sudden increase in eye floaters (more floaters are present, floaters appear more frequently, or floaters are more noticeable)
- Floaters are accompanied by other symptoms, such as flashes of light or eye pain
- Floaters are accompanied by vision loss or other changes to sight (blurry vision, tunnel vision, peripheral vision loss, etc.)
Diagnosing the Cause of Floaters
The ophthalmologists at Monterey County Eye Associates can perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause of floaters. Using the latest technology, our team checks a patient’s vision, tests ocular motility and depth perception, measures eye pressure, and examines all parts of the eye, including the pupil and retina. Depending on what our doctors find, additional testing may be ordered.
When diagnosing the cause of floaters, we aim to rule out issues commonly linked to the condition. Eye damage and diseases that may result in floaters include:
- Uveitis (inflammation in the back of the eye)
- Bleeding in the eye
- Torn or detached retina
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Complications from an eye injury or eye surgery
If you have suddenly developed floaters, have noticed an increase in floaters, or are experiencing floaters along with other vision changes, we recommend a comprehensive eye exam. To schedule an exam with the ophthalmologists at Monterey County Eye Associates, contact our practice online or call (831) 424-1150 at your earliest convenience.