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The facts about eye floaters

If you have ever looked at a plain backdrop and noticed the odd dark dot or squiggle swimming around in your vision, the chances are you have eye floaters.

This common condition is not usually anything to worry about, especially if you have experienced it for a long time and the number of floaters you can see stays roughly consistent.

Patrick & Menzies’ Dan Edwards explained: “Many people suffer from eye floaters and in the vast bulk of cases they don’t need any form of treatment. Typically, as you get older the vitreous – the gel inside your eyeball – becomes less jelly-like, liquefies slightly, and gets less stable. When tiny parts of the vitreous membrane that surrounds the vitreous forming a barrier between that and the retina, break away and float around in the vitreous, it creates floaters.”

Usually, floaters are black or dark in colour and they can vary in size. Once you experience floaters they won’t disappear but they can sink so they are less visible or often people get so used to them they no longer notice them.

People who suffer from floaters are often more aware of them when they look up at a cloudless sky or other blank canvas. If you look at a busy background, they tend to be less noticeable.

If you have medium to high levels of short-sightedness there’s a higher chance of floaters as the vitreous membrane and retina are under more tension.

Dan continued: “99.99% of the time eye floaters are completely innocent and nothing to worry about. However, if you experience a sudden onset or the number increases significantly, particularly if you start to notice flashes of light in your peripheral vision as well, it is important to book an appointment with your optician as in rare circumstances this can be a sign of some sort of detachment within the eye.”

If one of our patients is concerned that they are seeing floaters we will always want to have a look and talk through their eye history to find out what is going on.

Dan added: “We would always encourage our patients to book in to see us as soon as possible if they are worried about anything to do with their vision as it’s much easier if we can catch something early on.

“With eye floaters, in a rare situation they can be an early sign of retinal detachment. If we find that’s the case, we can arrange for you to be referred to an ophthalmologist, providing them with all of the details they need to help.”

Contact your local branch if you are concerned about eye floaters.

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Focus on short sightedness

We’ve all heard the terms short and long sighted but do you know what they really mean?

In the first of two blogs we are going to take a closer look at short sightedness and what this may mean for your eyes.

What is short sightedness?

Short sightedness – or Myopia to give it its technical term – occurs when light rays that enter the eye, converge too much and come to a focal point in front of the retina giving a blurry image. In effect, the eyeball is too long. The longer it is the more short sighted (and more blurry) you will be.

In real terms it means you can see objects clearly when they are close-up, but anything in the distance may appear blurry.

Is it unusual to be short sighted?

No! Short sightedness is more common than long sightedness, and in fact it appears to be on the rise. Lots of research is going on to explore why levels are increasing.

Initial findings seem to show one cause could be that on the whole people now spend more time indoors, focusing on things that are close-up, rather than relaxing their eyes by focusing on the distance. In turn this is having an impact on their vision.

Who is likely to become short sighted?

Short sightedness tends to develop during teenage years and when people are in their early 20s.

Can I grow out of being short sighted?

No, once you are short sighted you will be for life. Although it’s not reversible (except with refractive surgery) the right glasses or contact lenses can help correct your vision.

What happens if I have just been told I’m short sighted?

Depending on how short sighted you are, you will receive a prescription for minus powered diverging lenses. One of our team will talk to you about when you are likely to need to wear your glasses or contact lenses – for example if you will need them for driving – and we will help you choose the right option to suit your lifestyle.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be very short sighted before you legally need glasses to be able to drive.

Is there any treatment that would improve my short sightedness?

There are some emerging treatments which aim to stop the progression of short sightedness. For example, if a young child is quite rapidly becoming increasingly short sighted, we may recommend special glasses or contact lenses. Although these cannot necessarily reverse the Myopia, they have been shown to be able to help slow the progression. Unfortunately, these are not available on the NHS, but it is an option we can talk through with the patient or their parent.

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