What Are Eye Floaters?
Floaters are small shapes that some patients experience floating in or moving across their field of vision. They can take on different forms that can include spots, rings, or long narrow strands.
These shapes float across your vision as you move your eye around. If you try to look at the floater(s) it may seem like they are darting away. Many people can ignore them but for some, they can become very frustrating.
Some persons may not even notice they have them until they become more prominent or numerous, whilst others may not notice these until there are numerous or more prominent.
What Causes Eye Floaters?
The vitreous (a clear and gel-like transparent structure that fills the space in the middle of the eye) liquefies as we get older and the collagen fibres that form it, tend to clump together and float in the resulting fluid. These clusters of fibres can cast shadows on your retina which you see as floaters.
The onset of Floaters can be either acute or non-acute (i.e., they develop over time as part of the liquification of the vitreous as we get older). A sudden acute onset of Floaters may be a sign of Posterior Vitreous Detachment.
In most cases, floaters do not require treatment. However, in some cases and especially in cases of sudden onset, they may be a sign of Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD).
PVD becomes more common with age, however they can also appear in earlier age with short sightedness, cataract surgery or trauma.
Any patient who experiences a sudden onset of floaters (or they become more numerous or intrusive), flashes of light or a shadow in their visual field, should be examined as soon as possible by a Vitreoretinal Specialist.
Patients with an acute onset of floaters need to undergo a Full Retinal Examination through dilated pupils that includes Biomicroscopy and Indirect Ophthalmoscopy with Scleral indentation to rule out Retinal tears or Retinal detachment A thorough examination can prevent loss of vision or blindness by acting fast with Retinal laser or surgery for a Retinal detachment depending, on the location of the tear or detachments, the size and the extent of fluid accumulating underneath the Retina.
However, patients with non-acute Floaters, or longer-term Vitreous Opacities, after an initial consultation, will be offered to undergo an extensive array of testing.
Assessing vision only using a visual chart test and asking patient to read letters cannot really show how Vitreous Opacities and Floaters can affect vision and its quality.
Therefore, Prof. Stanga and his Team have designed a unique battery of established and new testing methods, specially put together for the assessment of how Vitreous Opacities and Floaters affect vision and its quality.
All patients undergo extensive and precise Imaging Tests of the vitreous as well as Visual Function Tests in order to objectively assess the effects of Vitreous Opacities and Floaters in the patient’s vision.
This objective assessment is also very important for pre- and post-surgery evaluation and comparison.
This testing is non-invasive and takes approximately 3 hours to complete.
Possible Treatment Options
Available management options for Vitreous Opacities and Floaters are:
However, there are of course patients for whom Prof. Stanga cannot recommend any from of treatment at the time of the consultation.
Like with all medical conditions, it is essential that the treating doctor is able to offer to the patient and be skilled in all available therapeutic modalities for that specific medical condition that the patient suffers from, as this is in the patient’s best interest. This is the only way that patients can have real and best choice. This is also best practice.
In the treatment of Vitreous Opacities and Floaters, doctors who can only offer one therapeutic modality be this laser or surgery and surgery, including all available techniques, are not offering patients the full range of options and therefore the one that could be best for that specific patient. It is very rare in Medicine for one therapy to suit all patients.
Therapies need to be tailored to the patient and be patient-specific.
It is therefore ideal for patient who are interested in undergoing treatment for Vitreous Opacities and Floaters to consult a Vitreoretinal Surgeon.
Prof. Stanga will discuss with the patient all treatment options and recommend which is most suitable for that specific patient, of course also taking into account patient’s choice.
Find out more
If you would like to book an appointment at The Retina Clinic London to see Prof. Stanga and know whether you would be eligible for any Treatment of Vitreous Opacities and Floaters, please contact us on (+44) 020 4548 5310 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org