Seeing Spots Is Not Always ‘Normal’

At every exam, I always ask my patients “do you ever see spots?” The responses vary, but frequently I hear “yes, but I thought everyone else did too.” In other words, they thought seeing spots was “normal.” To see small specks, or debris that looks like pieces of lint floating inside the eyes, is not always normal and can sometimes be a warning of more serious sight-threatening problems. These spots are called “floaters.” Floaters are located in the back of the eye in an area called the vitreous. The vitreous is a gel-like liquid that sits behind the iris (the colored part of the eyes) and in front of the retina (the inner lining of the eyes). The vitreous is attached to the back of the eye at the optic nerve. As we age, the vitreous begins to shrink and can pull apart from the retinal wall and nerve. This can result in particles from the retina being trapped in this liquid space. The vitreous gel does not drain out of the eyes. Therefore, these particles are there to float about permanently.

Most times, the separation of the vitreous from the retina is not always a problem, but there are times when a retinal hole or tear can result. This is more serious and can result in permanent vision loss. Surgery may be required in serious cases. Some floaters are present since birth as a part of the eye’s development, and other occur over time. Floaters are more common in those who are near-sighted, have had cataract surgery or laser surgery, or in inflammatory conditions.

In either case, most spots are harmless and merely annoying. Many spots will become less bothersome over time. Surgery is not advised in cases of normal floaters.

This topic was chosen to alert you that ALL floaters are NOT “normal” floaters. Having your eyes checked on a regular basis can determine if you have “normal” or abnormal floaters.

If you are seeing floaters now, I urge you to have your eyes checked immediately.

If you are in need of an eye care provider, I invite you to visit EnVision Eye Care. 321 W. Montgomery Crossroads, Savannah (across from Hunter Golf Course) For appointments, call (912) 927-0707 and visit us at www.envisionsavannah.com

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