|Is there any sense we rely on more than vision? For people who have |
never had impaired vision, it is hard to imagine how to get around
without healthy vision. That’s why vision changes send so many people into a panic.
If you’re in panic mode because you’re seeing black spots or floaters, take a breath. The bad news is that there are many potential reasons this may be happening.
There’s no way to know for sure without seeing your eye doctor.
The good news is that these problems are common and that in most
cases, they’re harmless. Here’s a look at the potential causes of floaters
and black spots.
Why You’re Seeing Black Spots: Possible Causes
Many eye problems have similar symptoms, like blurry vision, light sensitivity, and of course, floaters. Check out these conditions that often cause floaters.
They may say 50 is the new 40, but your eyes didn’t get the memo. They
go through changes throughout your life and as you hit your later middle-aged years, the changes can lead to floaters.
Your eye is filled with a material called vitreous which is like a thick gel. As you get older, that vitreous becomes more and more liquid.
Eventually, it shrinks up enough to pull away from the edges of your eye.
During this process, clumps and stringy bits form in the vitreous. Those
strings and clumps look like floaters in your vision. Many people also
experience flashes of light as this process is happening.
This is a change we all go through as we age. In fact, 80% of people have noticed this transition before they hit 65. It can be scary but it’s natural and harmless.
What to Do with Age-Related Eye Floaters
When eye floaters are caused by aging, they don’t require any treatment. However, you shouldn’t assume this is the cause of your floaters. It’s
always best for a doctor to examine your eyes to make sure your
symptoms aren’t a reason for concern.
You also need to keep an eye out for other issues. Your changing vitreous can sometimes cause a tear in your retina, which can lead to vision loss.
If you notice a sudden increase in the number or frequency of floaters,
see your eye doctor immediately.
2. Eye Injuries
We’ve all had times when we’ve been injured and we thought it was
nothing at the time. Later that day or after a few days, we realize our
body took more damage than we realized.
If you’ve taken a blow to the eye, you may develop floaters soon after. In
this case, the floaters are due to bleeding in your eye. You’re seeing the
actual blood cells in your eye, which your vision interprets as floating
What to Do if You Have Bleeding in Your Eye
If you suspect that you may be bleeding into your eye, you should seek
medical attention right away. Without specialized medical equipment, it’s impossible to know how serious the bleeding is.
Keep in mind that we aren’t talking about a simple bloodshot eye. If you
have redness in the white part of your eye but no other symptoms, you
don’t need to worry unless it doesn’t go away on its own.
Floaters and other vision changes, on the other hand, could mean the
bleed is more serious.
3. Eye Medications
For most people, floaters develop unexpectedly without an obvious cause.That’s why they tend to be so nerve-wracking: they come out of nowhere. In other cases, though, patients know about the floaters before they
This is the case with certain eye medications. For some eye conditions, a doctor may inject medication into the eye. Those medications sometimes produce air bubbles which look like floaters in your vision.
This can also happen after some eye surgeries. Surgeons sometimes injectsilicone oil into the eyes during surgery. Those oil bubbles look like
What to Do if Your Medication Produces Floaters
In most cases, your eye doctor or surgeon will tell you in advance that
your treatment could produce floaters. These floaters typically go away
on their own when your eye absorbs the air bubbles or silicone oil
Make sure you follow your doctor’s post-treatment instructions. They’ll
give you a list of possible complications to look for and what you should
do if you spot them. While the floaters don’t tend to need treatment, your doctor is always the final authority.
Inflammation is one of those health buzzwords. It seems like every day
we find more and more problems that systemic inflammation can cause. When it comes to eye floaters, though, it’s a more specific inflammation
you need to look for.
The surface of your eye has several layers, and the middle layer is called
the uvea. When you develop inflammation in your uvea in the back of
your eye, near your retina, it’s called posterior uveitis.
Another name for this is choroiditis because the back of the uvea is also
called the choroid.
When this part of your eye gets inflamed, it can release bits of debris.
That debris starts venturing throughout your eye, looking like floaters in your vision.
What to Do if You Have Posterior Uveitis
Inflammation in your uvea warrants an eye exam from your eye doctor. There are a few reasons this could happen.
In some cases, you may have an inflammatory disease throughout your
body. That inflammation could be extending to your uvea.
It’s also possible, though, that you have an infection in your uvea. That
infection could require medical treatment, so you need an accurate
diagnosis from your doctor.
Chances are that you’ve heard plenty about hypertension, or high blood
You know it can lead to life-threatening heart disease and you may even know that almost one-third of American adults have hypertension. Did
you know it can cause problems with your eyes too, though?
Hypertension damages the blood vessels throughout the body. The ones
in your eyes are no exception. The damage can cause those blood cells to
leak blood into your eyes. You start seeing those blood cells in your visionas floaters.
Keep in mind that hypertension can damage your vision in other ways too. Damage to the blood vessels in your retina can make your vision
What to Do if You Have Hypertensive Retinopathy
In terms of treating the bleeding in your eye from hypertension, there’s
no need to directly treat the bleed. It does, however, signal that you need to get your blood pressure under control.
Depending on your health and your condition, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure. They’re also likely to recommend lifestyle changes like improving your diet and exercising more often.
6. Retinal Tear
Your retina is one of the most vital parts of your eye when it comes to
creating your vision. Sitting at the back of your eye, your retina focuses
the light to help you see clearly.
When that crucial retina gets damaged, it can cause visual symptoms. One particular scenario is a tear in the retina that causes floaters in your
Remember when we mentioned that change in the vitreous that happens to all of us as we age? In some cases, that shrinking vitreous can tug too
hard on the retina as it shrinks. This tears the retina.
If you’re seeing an occasional spot or floater, it’s not likely to be a retinal
tear. Torn retinas cause a sudden increase in the number of floaters you
see or in how often you see them.
What to Do If You Think You Have a Retinal Tear
A retinal tear can be a serious condition. The tear may allow fluid to get
behind your retina. As that fluid builds up, it can separate the retina. This is called retinal detachment.
A detached retina can lead to permanent vision loss in the eye. If you
catch the tear or partial detachment before it reaches a full detachment,
though, it’s usually treatable with surgery.
For this reason, you should contact your eye doctorright away if you
suspect that you have a retinal tear.
7. Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes is one of those conditions that has a long list of potential
complications. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, one of those
possible complications is called diabetic retinopathy.
If your diabetes isn’t under control, it can damage your blood vessels
over time. When the blood vessels in your eyes reach a certain level of
damage, they can start leaking into your eye.
As with hypertension, the leaked blood cells appear in your vision as
Blood leakage is just one aspect of diabetic retinopathy. Uncontrolled
diabetes can also cause swelling in your retina. This makes your vision
blurry or cloudy.
What to Do if You Have Diabetic Retinopathy
If you have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy is something you should be on
the lookout for. It tends to take decades to develop, but many people havediabetes for years before they get diagnosed. You have no way of
knowing how long it’s been impacting your body.
If you suspect you have diabetic retinopathy, visit your eye doctor. There are treatments they can perform to reduce the damage. If left untreated,
the condition can lead to vision loss.
It can also be a sign that you need to visit your general doctor or your diabetes specialist. It’s likely that they need to adjust your medication or
lifestyle choices to control your diabetes better.
8. Ocular Migraine
Anyone who suffers from migraines knows how varied the condition is. While many people have one type of migraine most often, you never
know when an outlier will hit.
One type of migraine that can cause you to see spots is called an ocular
migraine. Either before or after the headache pain hits, an ocular migraine may lead to static or flickering blind spots in your vision. These can
look like tiny dark dots.
There are a few potential reasons you may have these spots during ocular migraines. They could happen due to spasming blood vessels in your
retina. In other cases, the nerves in your retina may be to blame.
What to Do if You Suspect an Ocular Migraine
Of all the conditions on this list, ocular migraines tend to be the most
obvious cause of floaters. The severe pain in one or both sides of your
head is a clear clue. So is sensitivity to light.
Ocular migraines also tend to be the most short-lived cause of spots in
your eyes. The floaters may last as long as your migraine does, or they
may end before the pain goes away.
If you are having ocular migraines, it’s a good idea to speak with a
migraine specialist. They’ll be able to find out more about your specific
Your doctor can prescribe certain medications or lifestyle changes that
will help to keep them at bay. It may take some time and some trial and
error to find the right combination, but patience pays off.
Keeping Your Vision Safe
Floaters and spots in your eyes aren’t unique problems by any stretch of
the imagination. Especially if you’re over the age of 50, you can expect to see a few floaters in the near future if you haven’t already.
Still, “common” doesn’t always mean “harmless.” As you can see from the list above, eye floaters can range from simple aging to a sign of a
We want to stress the importance of seeing an eye doctor when any
changes happen in your vision. It’s better to waste a visit and hear that
you’re fine than to ignore a problem and compromise your eyesight.
If you’ve been seeing black spots or floaters and want to find out the
cause from an eyecare professional, schedule your eye appointment
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