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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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