First of all, before knowing what exactly causes them, one must be sure what floaters are exactly and why you should seek any kind of medical advice. True to their name, the occurrence of floaters happens when people see small shapes floating in their vision. From narrow strands to tiny black dots, they can appear in a variety of shapes and sizes to different people.
Apart from being more common than most people realise, a lot of people tend to ignore them until there has been a substantial build-up of floaters on the whole. Some people don’t even seem to notice them until they become too prominent to ignore.
What causes floaters?
Located in the vitreous humour of the eye, floaters are usually located in front of the retina and below the lens. Since the lens is the part of the eye which helps to focus light the moment it enters the eye, the floaters are most visible on the lens.
While talking of vitreous humour, it is vital to note that it not only makes up 80% of the eye, but it also fills the middle space of the eyeball. 99% of the region is made up of water. This should come as no surprise as it is one of the primary aspects that help to keep the eye in shape at all times.
The aspect of PVD
Now, this is attached to the ageing process. For 75% of people who are aged above 65 years old, Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) occurs when the vitreous humour changes and becomes more liquefied in the centre. This is mainly attributed to the texture of the eyes changing with age more than anything else. Since the outer part contains more collagen, it starts to thicken resulting in the appearance of floaters.
The ageing process
For people who are aged 40 and above, this is the most common age when people tend to develop floaters. Although this is rare, younger people can also experience floaters. Since the vitreous humour, on the whole, tends to soften, the collagen strands start becoming more visible leading to the formation of floaters.
It is worthwhile noting that when these strands cast shadows on the retina, you will be able to see a faint outline of the floaters. However, most people shrug this off at first, thinking that it is probably a trick of the light. It is only when this repeatedly happens that people start realising that it is something else altogether.
The symptoms of floaters
When you are gazing at something for a while, you are likely to see them drift across your line of vision. Usually being grey or semi-transparent, they can appear as circles, cobwebs, lines and many other shapes that will be hard to notice at first.
However, if you have been suffering from large floaters for a while now, rest assured that activities like reading and driving will become tough for you to do properly since they not only require your full vision but your complete concentration as well.
Time to visit an optician
All in all, eye checkups once every two years is a must, even if you don’t feel that anything is wrong. At the very least, those tests will ensure that things stay that way for as long as possible.
For the most part, floaters are a mild annoyance at best and most kinds of medications do not work on them. Furthermore, a lot of people find that they tend to fade away as the years pass by. If you feel that you have floaters, do inform your optician so that he can diagnose the cause of it and prescribe the desired course of action: laser vitreolysis or laser eye floater removal.