Many people present to the office after noticing dark floaters that come across and obstruct their vision. Patients often state that they notice flashes of light in their peripheral vision in a dimly lit or dark room. Some people describe these dark spots as a fly or bug or squiggly lines in their vision that don’t seem to go away. So, what are these small dark spots and should you be concerned about them?
These dark spots, also known as “floaters” are usually due to a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD). A PVD is due to the separation of the gel inside the eye (the vitreous) from the retina. As we age, the gel that fills our eyes turns more into a liquid substance. This change into a liquid substance allows more fibers and debris to clump together within the vitreous and cast shadows on the retina. During the process of separation, patients are most at risk for a retinal detachment, tear or hole. A PVD is a normal age-related change that occurs and most patients will be symptomatic for about a week or two and then the symptoms will start to subside. The floater, however, will remain although it may get smaller or become less noticeable.
Flashes and floaters should be evaluated by an eye care professional. Some risk factors for an increase in flashes and floaters include diabetes, which can cause the growth of new blood vessels. These vessels can cause traction on the retina which can lead to a retinal detachment. Head and/or eye trauma can also increase the symptoms of flashes and floaters. Inflammation in the eye can also lead to an increase in floaters.
What should you expect when you come in for flashes and floaters? Your eye care professional will dilate your eyes and look through several lenses to ensure that the retina is intact and healthy. If they notice any signs of any retinal tears or breaks, you will be treated appropriately. Most floaters can be watched over time as the symptoms start to subside and your brain gets used to the image of them. If floaters are persistent and causing severe visual symptoms, your doctor can make a recommendation as to what the best treatment options are.
If you experience any flashes or floaters please call, 860-233-2020 to schedule an appointment with one of our eye care specialists today.