What are floaters?
Floaters are small pieces of debris that ‘float’ in the vitreous humour of the eye. This is a clear, jelly-like substance that fills the space in the middle of the eyeball, which is 99% water. Floaters occur behind the lens and in front of the retina.
They can occur in a number of different shapes and sizes – as tiny black dots, small shadowy dot, long narrow strands, or even larger, cloud-like shapes and narrow strands.
They most commonly develop as your eyes get older, as part of the natural ageing process. They’re usually harmless and won’t affect your vision. Often, you don’t notice them at all.
Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)
Posterior vitreous detachment can be the result of changes that occur to the vitreous humour of the eye, as the eye gets older. It’s a common condition that occurs in about 75% of people over 65.
With age, the central part of the vitreous humour becomes more liquid, and the outer part, known as the cortex starts to shrink away from the retina. Floaters develop as a result of the collagen thickening and clumping together.
As well as floaters, flashing can be another symptom of PVD. Flashing may occur when the outer part of the vitreous humour pulls on the light sensitive tissue of the retina.
What can we do?
Normally, PVD is not a sign of any eye health problems or disease, and symptons often get better with time. But if you are experiencing flashes, and/or have noticed an increase in floaters, it’s important to contact us straight away.
Mr Puri says:
“These symptons can indicate a tear in the retina or detachment, which needs urgent attention, so it’s important to contact an optician immediately if you notice these changes.”