Flashers & Floaters:

Treatment & Prevention at Kutryb Eye

There are a number of different types and causes of “floaters”. The most common type are those annoying little black specks which seem to dart away—just out of sight–as you look for them. Often these are small remnants of embryonic blood vesse ls, flecks of pigment floating freely in the aqueous fluid in the front of the eye or strands in the more jelly-like vitreous in the back of the eye. (The vitreous fills nearly the entire inside of the eye ball. ) Floaters are also caused by small pigment flecks deposited on strands of muscle fibers attached to the iris.






What are Flashes & Floaters?

Inside the eye there is a clear gel called the vitreous. When we are born the vitreous has a firm solid shape to it (like jello) even though it is 98-99% water. Starting at about age four this gel begins to liquify. Bits and pieces of this gel break off and float around inside the eye. This will cast a shadow on the retina and cause you to see something moving in your vision. So, although floaters appear to be in front of the eye, they are actually floating in the fluid inside the eye. These “floaters” come in many sizes and shapes and are described by people in different

ways: spots, dots, circles, lines, strands, strings, cobwebs, clouds, amoeba and dust-like specks. They are most apparent against a light background like a blue sky, lightly painted walls, white tiles in a bathroom or white background of a page in a book. Because they are inside your eye, they move with your eyes when you try to look at them. With time floaters will usually diminish because:

  • They break up into smaller pieces or

  • Gravity will pull them down out of your line of sight

  • The brain just ignores them

Some people feel their floaters do not change at all. They are typically no more than an aggravation or annoyance and are not treated.

The vitreous gel is firmly attached to the retina in three spots. As the gel becomes more liquid and shrinks with age, it tugs at these attachments and eventually will detach. It is the GEL detaching from the retina and not the retina itself detaching, however, retinal detachment has similar symptoms. When this tugging and detachment occur you will usually see more floaters and flashes of light because the retina is being stimulated.

These flashes are similar to the sensation of “seeing stars” when one is hit on the head. Most people will eventually see flashes and/or floaters in their lifetime.

If you should suddenly see a shower of new floaters, especially in conjunction with flashes of light and a black curtain or veil over your vision, it could indicate something more serious. We will need to examine you to diagnose this properly.