New Onset of Floaters & Flashes
Noticing a few new dark cobwebs, specks or thread like strands darting around your vision more noticeable under well-lit conditions? These “Floaters” are the result of new opacities within the vitreous gel core of your eye casting shadows on the film like retinal tissue lining the inside, back surface of your eye. If you are noticing a few floaters every so often this is usually not a cause for concern and is likely the result of the early phase of age related vitreous gel liquefaction. When we are born the vitreous is a clear, gel within the back of the eye that connects to the retinal surface. As we mature, the vitreous gel slowly begins to dissolve into a mixture of gel and water. It is the remaining gel that condenses into strands and floats around the vitreous cavity creating these harmless but annoying floaters. Though distracting at first, you will likely become less aware of these floaters in the coming months as your brain tunes them out.
Concerning Floaters & Flashes….Seek Care!!
If you see a sudden onset of prominent, numerous floaters this is likely the result of the vitreous gel pulling away from the retina as the vitreous core undergoes its terminal phase of age related liquefaction. This process is called Posterior Vitreous Detachment and can result in a tug of war between the vitreous gel and thin, film like retina tissue lining the back of the eye. The pulling mechanism that ensues during posterior vitreous detachment may create momentary lightning bolt like “flashes” of white light in the periphery of your vision, more noticeable under dimly lit conditions. These flashes and/or floaters are associated with a 15% chance of retinal tear development and possible subsequent retinal detachment as the vitreous gel peels away from the retina. If the gel separation tears the retina, blood may be liberated resulting in a shower of new floaters and blurred vision. 50% of untreated tears can result in retinal detachment as the liquefied portion of vitreous gel traverses the tear and dissects the retina from its underlying blood supply resulting in a progressive gray curtain over the peripheral vision. Timely diagnosis and treatment of retinal tear with office based laser is very successful in preventing retinal detachment and vision loss.
Should you experience any of these symptoms, please call our office promptly 203-878-126 to schedule an appointment. Failure to seek prompt eye care could result in irreversible vision loss.
Other Causes for Floaters
• Intraocular inflammation in the back of the eye
• Bleeding from vascular disease (diabetes, hypertension)
Blog posted by Dr. David Levinson a board certified ophthalmologist and fellowship trained medical and surgical retina specialist. For more information on floaters, flashes, retinal detachment, or any of the services we offer, please contact us 203-878-1236 at any of our 4 offices in Milford, Orange, Branford, or Shelton. We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon.