What Causes Eye Floaters?

Wonder why you’re seeing black or grey specks, or “cobwebs” in your vision? Let’s talk about eye floaters

In order to discuss what causes eye floaters, let’s first define them.

An eye floater is a spot in your vision that may appear as:

  • black or grey specks
  • black or grey strings
  • cobwebs

The spots in your vision may drift when you move your eyes, and dart away when you try to look at them directly.

Who is Most at Risk of Experiencing Eye Floaters?

Individuals most at risk for eye floaters are typically over 50 years of age. A few additional risk factors include:

  • nearsighted
  • recent head or eye trauma
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • eye inflammation

What Causes Eye Floaters?

Age-Related Changes
As you age, the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80% of your eye, slowly shrinks. The vitreous’ main purpose is to help your eye maintain its round shape. As it shrinks, it becomes stringy, and the strands can clump and cast tiny shadows on your retina. These shadows are floaters.

In most cases, floaters are a natural part of your eye’s aging process. While distracting at first, they will eventually settle below your line of sight.

Other common causes of eye floaters are more serious than age related changes. If you’re experiencing a floater every now and again there is no cause for concern, but if you see a whole slew of floaters accompanied by flashes of light, you should seek immediate medical attention. A small handful of these emergency situations are listed below.

Inflammation in the back of the eye causes the release of inflammatory debris into the vitreous, which are seen as floaters.

Blood cells in the eye caused by diabetes, hypertension, blocked blood vessels and injury are seen as floaters.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment
A study published in Opthamology showed that of individuals experiencing sudden eye floaters and flashes of light, 39.7% of them had posterior vitreous detachment – a condition in which your vitreous pulls away from your retina.

Retinal Detachment
If left untreated, a posterior vitreous detachment can quickly become a retinal detachment. As the vitreous tugs on the retina, it causes a small tear or hole. Vitreous enters the tear and pushes the retina further away from the inner lining of the back of eye. Research has shown that up to 50% of people with a retinal tear will develop a retinal detachment, leading to significant vision loss.

During a detachment, the patient has approximately 24 -48 hours to fix it or risk permanent loss of vision and possibly the entire eye. Most offices, like ours, have a 24/7 emergency phone number allowing you to speak with a doctor regarding conditions such as retinal detachment. Call your doctor as soon as you start experiencing a retinal emergency – do not wait until a weekend or holiday is over!

How Should I Treat Eye Floaters?

If you’re unsure of the severity of your eye floater, it’s best to schedule an exam and consult with a doctor. As mentioned above, in most cases the doctor will be able to provide you with peace of mind that your floater is just a symptom of age. In other cases; however, your doctor may recommend treatment.

One of the most common eye floater treatments is laser vitreolysis. During this procedure, a laser is projected into the eye through the pupil to target the floaters and break them apart.

Some common factors that determine whether laser treatment is right for you include your age, when your symptoms started, what your floaters look like and where they are located in your eye.



How to Tell if Your Child Has Pink Eye

Learn more about pink eye symptoms and how you can help to treat it and prevent the spread.

As with most firsts in young children, pink eye can seem scary. Rest assured; however, that pink eye is usually easy to treat.

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an irritation of the transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and part of your eyeball.

How Do You Get Pink Eye?

Children attending day care, preschool or elementary are most at risk for pink eye because of how closely they work with other children in the classroom.

There are three main types of pink eye that your child may contract. Only two – viral and bacterial – are contagious. Viral and bacterial pink eye can spread very quickly either through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluid – from the eye, mouth or nose – or from indirect contact with something the infected person’s fluid touched. For example, if a child with pink eye sneezes on a book he’s reading, the next few children to interact with that book could contract pink eye.

Let’s look at each of the three types of pink eye a little more closely.

Viral Pink Eye
Viral pink eye is very contagious. Like the common cold, it usually clears up on its own, without medical treatment, within several days. Slightly more watery discharge similar to allergic pink eye

Bacterial Pink Eye
Bacterial pink eye is also contagious. If left untreated with an antibiotic, this type of pink eye can cause serious eye damage. This type produces more thick mucus with purulent (lot of material) discharge

Allergic Pink Eye
Allergic pink eye can be seasonal or year-round. Some common causes of allergic pink eye include pollen, dust and animal dander. Often this allergic type sets up conditions for viral and bacterial to occur because of unclean hands touching the eyes frequently.

What Are Pink Eye Symptoms?

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child’s eyes, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away.

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Green, yellow or white discharge that crusts on eyelashes
  • Increased tears
  • Itching, irritation or burning
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light

How Do You Get Rid of Pink Eye?

The treatment for your child’s pink eye will depends on the type, which is why it’s important to schedule a complete eye exam before beginning treatment.

Viral Pink Eye
Pink Eye caused by viruses usually lasts four to seven days along with other common cold symptoms. Just as your child must wait out other common cold symptoms such as runny nose and cough, he or she will wait out the symptoms of viral pink eye. There are several actions you can take; however, to make your child more comfortable during this time, such as applying a cold, wet washcloth to the eye several times a day.

Bacterial Pink Eye
Pink Eye caused by bacteria is typically treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics can be in the form of eye drops or ointments that need to be applied several times a day. Antibiotics can also be taken as pills. Regardless of the type of antibiotic, your child’s infection should improve within one week.

Allergic Pink Eye
Pink Eye caused by allergies can typically be prevented or treated with allergy medications before or after the allergy season begins.

If you’re worried about the spread of pink eye in your child’s school or in your own home, here are a few things you can do:

  • Keep your child home from school or daycare until they are no longer contagious.
  • Distract your child whenever he or she wants to touch or rub the infected eye.
  • Wash any discharge from your child’s eye several times a day using a fresh cotton ball or paper towel.
  • Wash your child’s sheets, pillowcases and towels more frequently.
  • Wash your child’s hands frequently and keep disinfectant on hand when washing is not an option.
  • Apply a cold, wet washcloth to the eye several times a day.

There are several other conditions associated with pink eye – such as dry eyes and blepharitis – so it’s extremely important that you schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to determine if your child does in fact have pink eye, what type of pink eye it is, and how it should best be treated.



What is Lazy Eye?