The development of eye floaters is a natural part of aging. Those odd little squiggly lines, dots or clumps are the most noticeable when you gaze at a blank sheet of paper, a blank wall, or gaze at a cloudless blue sky. They usually begin to appear when you reach your 40’s and 50’s. While they can be annoying, in most cases, eye floaters are not cause for concern.
What Are Eye Floaters?
The interior of the eye is filled with a substance called vitreous. Millions of fine fibers are intertwined within the vitreous and are attached to the retina. As the eyes age, the vitreous shrinks and small strands or globs of it break off and appear to be floating in your field of vision.
Eye floaters are very rare in children and young adults, but usually by age 70 almost everyone has a few eye floaters. In fact, they are the number one reason people visit an ophthalmologist. Unless the floaters are seriously interfering with your vision, your doctor will most likely not prescribe any kind of treatment.
Risk Factors for Eye Floaters
Some groups of people are more likely to develop more eye floaters and to develop them earlier in life compared to other people, such as:
- People with diabetes
- People who have had a severe eye injury
- People who are severely nearsighted
- People who have had cataract surgery (or laser surgery after cataract surgery)
- Those who have had tuberculosis, syphilis, sarcoidosis (disease that cause inflammation of body tissue) or toxoplasmosis (a disease caused by a parasite usually transmitted via cat feces)
Related: The Eyes are Mirrors of your Health
Do Eye Floaters Ever Go Away?
The floaters will never entirely go away. However, they may shift position in the eye causing less of a shadowy effect; and they may shrink with time. Generally the brain adapts to them, basically ignoring them, so that you notice them less and less.
What Is The Treatment For Eye Floaters?
Unless the eye floaters are interfering with your vision or accompanied by flashes of light there is no proven safe treatment for those that occur naturally with age. The best thing to do is be patient until your brain adapts to their presence and accept them as a normal part of aging.
When Should You Be Worried About Eye Floaters?
The sudden onset of many eye floaters accompanied by loss of peripheral vision and light flashes is an emergency! These are symptoms of a retinal tear or retinal detachment, which can cause internal bleeding in the eye and vision loss, so seek medical attention right away.