As we age, it is far from unusual for our eyes and eyesight to deteriorate. One example of this is the shrinkage of the vitreous (the gel-like substance that makes up approximately 80% of the eye) and allows it to maintain its round shape. When this occurs, the vitreous becomes stringy; these ‘strands’ can cast shadows onto the retina. These shadows usually appear as small specks or undulating lines, and generally drift around the eye. These shadows are known as ‘floaters’ – and most people are able to learn to ignore them.
The eye’s aging process is the not the sole cause of floaters; any eye condition that results in the Vitreous Humor being obscured can result in floaters.
The appearance of a floater is normally nothing to fret about; usually they are caused by vitreous detachment (whereby a segment of the vitreous tugs and detaches fine fibres from the retina at the same time). This results in the appearance of numerous new floaters; however, this is normally not a danger to your eyesight and generally won’t require any treatment.
However, if you experience a sudden barrage of floaters and notice a light flashes or a loss of peripheral vision, this could be signalling retinal detachment. Unlike innocuous floaters, this presents a major risk to your eyesight. If you suspect a retinal attachment has transpired, seek immediate medical attention from a doctor.
For standard floaters, conversely, doctors and Ophthalmologist are unlikely to recommend any treatment or surgery. There are no acclaimed oral medications or eye-drops for the alleviation of floaters, and the risks of surgery far outweigh the benefits if floaters are nothing more than a slight irritation. If floaters are numerous and compact enough to obscure vision (though this is a rare occurrence) a Vitrectomy might be suggested. This is a surgery that removes floaters from the vitreous. Furthermore, certain anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics can assist in reducing the number of white blood cells in the eye and can therefore reduce floaters in the uncommon scenario whereby white blood cells are the catalyst.
If bleeding in the vitreous occurs – due to diabetic retinopathy or a retinal tear – and causes atypical floaters, it should eventually dissipate as it absorbs the blood. Bleeding such as this, however, should not be ignored – the cause needs to be established. Again, a visit to the doctor or ophthalmologist is required.
Whilst not clinically proven, certain vitamins, herbs and other products high in iodine have been cited as effective natural remedies to floaters.
What are eye floaters?
Eye floaters, you know, those squiggly lines in the corner of your eye that drift aimlessly about. At least, right until you try and focus on them, which causes them to scurry away.
Floaters are quite normal. These floaters are opaque spots in the jelly of the eye that can move around and sometimes cast shadows, which some people perceive as wavy lines or black spots in their vision. They appear when tiny pieces of the vitreous, the clear jelly part of the eye between the lens and the retina, break free. The vitreous gel then floats around your eye, causing obstructed vision.
But, it’s not actually the vitreous gel that you’re seeing, it’s the tiny shadows that are being cast onto the retina as light passes through the eye. That’s why they are easier to see in brighter conditions.
How are eye floaters caused?
As mentioned, “eye floaters” are the result of a clear gel in the eye breaking off. As a child and in youth the vitreous maintains a gel-like consistency meaning that younger people have less eye floaters. But as people become older the gel-like vitreous begins to dissolve and liquefy. This causes a watery centre where these vitreous particles often drift. When they do drift in this area you can see their shadow cast by light entering the eye.
Treatment for eye floaters
In the past, people would have to undergo a vitrectomy, an invasive procedure that removes some, or all of the vitreous and replaces it with a sterile fluid. This option isn’t recommended by many Doctors as complications can arise.
Fortunately, Perfect Vision offers the Vitreolysis treatment which is a non-invasive, highly effective laser treatment for eye floaters. Vitreolysis treatment is an outpatient based procedure that removes all of these floaters, safely. This painless treatment involves the use of the Ultra Q Reflex technology which is designed to reduce focusing errors and risks of damaging the lens or retina. This makes it the ideal piece of equipment for removing vitreous particles.
The Vitreolysis solution significantly reduces or removes eye floaters and helps to improve the overall quality of vision. The treatment takes between 20 minutes to 1 hour per session and has zero downtime, meaning you can get straight back to work.
Why would they need to be treated?
Vitreous strands sound pretty common and unthreatening, so why would you need to remove them?
The occasional eye floater poses no threat, but multiple can obstruct vision. Coming in different shapes and forms, the stray vitreous gel can eventually cause significant reductions in sight, especially as people age. Cloud-like floaters and Weiss ring (Donut) floaters can be a particular hindrance to sight.
There is more cause for concern when a shower of spots and strands occur. In particular, if a flash of light accompanies this sudden shower. This means that the vitreous is pulling away from the retina or that it’s being dislodged entirely, and that’s not good. The retina contains important, oxygen, blood and nutrients that keep the eye functioning. This Posterior Vitreous Detachment can be extremely dangerous for your eyes. If this does occur an ophthalmologist should be visited as soon as possible.
How can Perfect Vision help?
Perfect Vision provides Ultra Q Reflex vitreolysis treatment, a much safer alternative to a vitrectomy. The treatment uses a laser to focus on the vitreous particles and break them up.
Before proceeding with this treatment, Perfect Vision doctors will first assess a person’s candidacy and likeliness to benefit. This might depend on age, the severity of symptoms, location and shape. More often than not patients younger than 45 aren’t appropriate for treatment. This is because the vitreous still may be located far too close to the retina for effective treatment.