Arizona Eye Center Procedures – Floaters

Vitreous floaters (“eye floaters” or “floaters”) appear when bits of material suspended in the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills the back of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, cast shadows on the retina. Floaters appear as small, dark, shapes that may resemble threads or spots, and appear to float around in the field of vision.

The presence of vitreous floaters is, by itself, not necessarily a serious condition. Many people have vitreous floaters that are simply a minor annoyance and they learn to ignore or live with them. However, there are other, more serious causes of floaters, including infection, bleeding, retinal tears, and injury to the eye. Sudden increases in floaters accompanied by flashing lights in the peripheral or side visual fields can be a sign of retinal detachment, a very serious condition that can lead to permanent vision loss within days.

In most cases, vitreous floaters are part of the natural aging process. They are also common in people who are very nearsighted, have diabetes, or who have had a cataract operation, and generally do not require treatment. However, if you notice a sudden increase in floaters, especially if it is accompanied by flashing lights or unusual shadowing in your peripheral vision, you should seek medical attention right away to determine whether you are experiencing retinal tear or detachment.

At Arizona Eye Center, we understand both the annoyance of common vitreous floaters and the urgency of diagnosing retinal detachment as a potential cause of new-onset floaters. We will schedule you for a prompt and comprehensive eye examination in order to determine the cause of your floaters.