What It Means When You See More Floaters in Your Vision, and When to Worry

Eye floater treatment in Austin

That small, squiggly line or shadow in your field of vision is most likely a normal part of getting older, but sometimes, these floaters and cobwebs signal a more serious eye condition. While most floaters come and go without treatment, sometimes laser floater removal at Austin Eye Clinic is necessary to clear the visual field. 

Why Do Eye Floaters Happen? 

Floaters drift across your field of vision when your eye stops moving, and you may see them more when you look at a white wall. These little specks are found in a gel-like fluid, called the vitreous, that fills 80% of your eyeball. The vitreous gel shrinks or contracts with age, causing tiny strands to appear and float in front of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of your eye, and these floaters interrupt the flow of light to the retina, creating a shadow in your vision. 

Eye floaters may become more or less visible when you move, adjust your head position, are tired, or look at a bright background. 

Who Is More Likely to Have Eye Floaters? 

Most men and women will develop eye floaters as they get older. Floaters are more common in people over 40 because of changes in the vitreous gel. People with high myopia (nearsightedness) tend to have more floaters, and having diabetes or a history of cataract surgery can increase their risk. Other factors, such as eye inflammation or uveitis, eye infection, and ocular trauma, may make floaters more likely to appear.  

When to Worry About Eye Floaters

Generally, a sudden increase in eye floaters is worrisome and may signal a more serious eye condition, such as retinal detachment or a retinal tear. Retinal detachment happens when the vitreous pulls away from the retina, damaging the retinal tissue. Symptoms of retinal detachment or retinal tears include more eye floaters, light bursts, and decreased peripheral vision. 

Contact our eye doctors in Austin right away if you experience these symptoms. Retinal tears and other concerns are diagnosed with a dilated eye exam, which widens the pupil to examine the inner eye. 

Laser Floater Removal 

Our ophthalmologists at Austin Eye offer laser floater treatment or laser vitreolysis with a nano-pulsed ophthalmic YAG laser. The procedure vaporizes specks and strands in the vitreous, converting the floater material (collagen and hyaluronic molecules) into a gas. The eye resorbs the material for a clearer visual field. Our eye doctors use an advanced laser system with Reflex Technology™ by Ellex that provides a safe and effective treatment for patients with symptomatic floaters. Laser floater removal carries fewer risks than vitrectomy, which removes and replaces the vitreous gel. 

If you have eye floaters, discuss your vision and eye health with our eye doctors during a comprehensive eye exam. Schedule an appointment at Austin Eye Clinic in Austin, Texas, by calling (512) 250-2020 or filling out our contact form.