Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Common Eye Questions: Floaters

Have you ever watched someone swatting at an invisible bug? What if that “bug” wasn’t invisible at all but rather something that only the swatter could see? Maybe you’ve been the one trying to hit a bug that doesn’t really exist.
Thousands of people around the world see small flecks floating right in front of their eyes. Many times, people think these are insects or stray eyelashes. In reality, these flecks are tiny floatersdrifting around the inside of your eye. Even though the thought of having something floating in your eye is strange and scary, most of the time it is completely harmless.
What is a floater?
A floater is generally a small accumulation of tissue that has detached from the light sensitive tissue — the retina — in the back of the eye. As we age, the gel-like material in the eye — the vitreous — tends to shrink. As it does, it can tug on the retina, causing a small bit to detach. This process is called a vitreous detachment. Unlike a retinal detachment, a vitreous detachment is common and typically is not cause for alarm.
Although floaters appear in many shapes and colors, most are generally dark in color (black or brown) and round or string-like in shape. Most often, people report seeing a floater when looking at a bright or light-colored surface, such as the sky or a wall.