Where Do Floaters Come From?

Floaters, you know, those clear lines and spider web-looking clear things that seem to drift through your vision? There’s actually a name for it — posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). PVD is a normal part of aging, especially after a person reaches his 40s or 50s.

eye healthPVD happens because the vitreous jelly in the middle of your eye begins to change at this point in a person’s life. The back of the eye is normally filled with vitreous jelly. The jelly’s normal structure breaks down in a process call syneresis, where the jelly becomes more like a fluid. But it doesn’t do it all at once, so small clumps and strands of the jelly first form. When the eye moves these clumps and strands can pull away from the retina and move around in the eye. These are floaters, drifting through your vision like so many nomads in the Sahara. They can have all kinds of different shapes: dots, lines, circles, clouds, cobwebs, and others. Usually, the floaters appear to move across your vision.

This whole process is a normal part of aging and doesn’t require treatment. But if the vitreous jelly is strongly attached to the retina, the jelly can pull so hard on the retina that it can cause a tear. Due to this tear, fluid can collect under the retina, leading to retinal detachment. Retinal detachment needs immediate attention.

When are floaters a problem?
When the jelly tears the retina, the person will see flashing lights. So, if you see flashes, or even new floaters, you should come to Retina Consultants of Hawaii for an exam, just to be sure nothing serious is wrong. The doctor will dilate your eyes and check them out.