Some of us may notice a small speckle of dust "floating" in our vision that may resemble a cobweb or gnat. They can take the shape of small black spots or thread-like strands that sporadically come and go from our sight. As we move our eyes, they follow behind and we just can't seem to brush them away. These tiny particles are commonly referred to as "floaters".
Experiencing floaters can be a
strange and startling affair.
Some types of floaters have the potential of being harmless phenomena, especially if they have been around for a period of time and gradually begin to fade from our view. These floaters usually originate in a gel-like part of the eye that liquefies and separates as a normal aging process. They do not require any treatment and the brain learns to visually ‘ignore' these strands overtime.
Other types of floaters, on the other hand, may be a red flag of a serious sight-threatening emergency that requires immediate attention. These floaters typically appear suddenly, are more numerous in number, and/or are larger in size than a dust particle. These floaters may also be accompanied by light flashes - which look like lightning streaks or headlights on a car - or a sudden loss of part of one's vision. These symptoms suggest a break in the back of one’s eyes that carries the risk of causing permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Despite the possibility of these floating critters being simply a part of a normal event of our bodies changing (forever young!), however, never leave your gift of sight to chance. Instead, treat any new floater as suspicious and let your optometrist perform a thorough exam to assure you otherwise.