Any instances of abnormal apparitions in vision, such as glares and halos around lights, blurred vision, flashes, and floaters can cause alarm. The term “floaters” is often used to describe visions of cobwebs, threads, or specks across the field of vision. Flashes may occur when blinking, or randomly across the visual field. In most cases, floaters and flashes are harmless. However, it is important to know what these visual disturbances could mean, and when floaters and flashes should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
What Floaters May Indicate
Floaters occur when a small protein deposit or cluster of cells lodges in the vitreous humor, the egg-like gel that is located at the rear of the eyeball. This soft structure is connected to the retina. A floater is a shadow that is cast onto the retina from the accumulation within the vitreous humor. Because the vitreous humor becomes somewhat stringy as we age, most people notice a higher prevalence of floaters sometime after the age of 60. Sometimes, the frequency of floaters may inhibit reading or other concentrated tasks but, in most cases, that is the end of it.
Noticing the Signs of Trouble
When floaters begin to occur randomly, and with great frequency, there is a reason to contact an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive exam. This is because, under certain circumstances, floaters may indicate a substantial change in the integrity of the retina. If the shrinking vitreous humor tugs enough on the retina, detachment may occur. This event, referred to as a posterior vitreous detachment, may be a threat to vision.
Full retinal detachment occurs in only about one in six cases of posterior vitreous detachment. There is no pain involved in this tearing away, which is why it is important to recognize signs such as:
- Rapid onset of flashes and floaters
- Gradual decrease in vision from one side (darkening like closing curtains)
- Quickly declining central vision
Warning signs of full retinal detachment should be assessed right away. Retinal tears, the onset of detachment, may be repaired with appropriate laser surgery.
Schedule a Consultation
Vitreo Retinal Surgery, PA has several locations in Minnesota to serve you. To learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachment or to schedule a consultation, please call (800) VRS-2500.