Quite often, when patients come in for an exam, they complain of seeing floaters. So, what are floaters? In the eye care world, floaters are anything that interferes with the visual pathway by casting a shadow on the retina. They can be caused by debris in the tear film on the corneal surface, or of greater concern, in the vitreous gel. When we’re children, the vitreous gel is more solid; however as we age, parts of the gel will liquefy. These liquefied portions will cast a shadow on the retina, thereby causing you to see floaters. This is not an uncommon phenomenon.
However, if the floaters you’re experiencing an increase in abnormal floaters that occur with or without flashing lights, you should seek immediate attention from your eye care professional. This can be a sign of a more serious complication involving the retina. Retinal tears or detachments, if left unchecked, can lead to permanent vision loss. If the retinal tear or detachment is found early, intervention can be quite simple. However, retinal repair surgery in an operating room may be needed to repair the issue.