Have you ever wondered what causes those little dots and shadows that flit across your vision?
Floaters are caused by debris floating into your eyeball and generally, they are nothing to be concerned about.
Eyeballs are coated in a vitreous jelly which debris floats on top of. If the debris float over your retina it will cause a shadow which creates a dark spot dancing in front of you.
Floaters are more likely to occur as we age, because the eyeball jelly softens and strands of collagen appear. This is known as posterior vitrious detachment, and as you reach 60 or 70 years old the collagen may clump together and shrink causing more floaters.
Generally, this is fine but can cause pulling on the retina which may cause a retinal tear, which can also result in further floater action in your eye.
If you suspect you have a tear, or are worried about floaters, see your optician.
“In the majority of cases, floaters are a normal part of the aging process,” says Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Adviser for the College of Optometrists. “However, occasionally a sudden increase in floaters may be a sign of a more serious eye disease such as a retinal detachment. If you notice an increase in floaters, you should contact your optometrist straight away.
“Your optometrist will be able to assess the causes of the floaters and establish whether you need to be seen by an ophthalmologist. If you cannot do this you should seek urgent attention from your local eye casualty department.”