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Eye Floaters Facts
Eye floaters are a very common condition, especially among older people. They can be benign, or pathological, the latter indicating a serious underlying problem. Here are the core eye floaters facts:
Eye Floaters Prevalence: Half of all adults will experience eye floaters at some point in their lives. As you get older, your chance of getting eye floaters increases, because the liquid in your eyes starts to lose its shape and integrity. However, even children can get eye floaters. Indeed, some people are born with eye floaters.
Eye Floaters Symptoms: The symptoms of eye floaters are mainly seeing dots, lines, or smoke in your field of vision. These floaters generally look white, grey or semi-transparent. They are more visible when looking at a bright background (e.g. looking at a sunny sky) and they tend to dart about when you move your eyes. The number of eye floaters is highly variable; some see a single one, others will see hundreds. In addition to these floaters, some people will experience flashes of light.
Eye Floaters - What are They: The objects you see are aggregations of proteins, debris or blood in the vitreous humor - the jelly-like substance that fills your ocular cavity and maintains the eyeball's shape. The floaters' location is behind the lens and in front of the retina.
What Causes Eye Floaters: In the vast majority of cases, eye floaters occur because of age-related alterations in the vitreous humor. This jelly-like substance tends to shrink and lose its fluidity with age, and this can cause dissolved proteins to aggregate and becomes visible. In addition, the vitreous humor can sometimes detach itself from the retina (this is fairly common) in a process known as posterior vitreous detachment. When this occurs, debris becomes visible. Less commonly, floaters may be tiny drops of blood. Blood may end up in the vitreous humor if a blood vessel bursts in the area or if there is a retinal tear.
Eye Floaters Treatment: You should always consult with your doctor when you develop eye floaters and when your eye floaters suddenly increase in number or density. This is to make sure that there is no serious underlying condition that is causing them. Unfortunately, conventional treatment for eye floaters is very limited. Most doctors will tell you to learn to live with them. The only medical procedures available for their removal are laser and vitrectomy. Laser removal involves the breaking up of the floaters by burning them with a laser. Vitrectomy involves the draining of the vitreous humor (together with the floaters) and replacing it with a saline solution. Both procedures are risky - laser removal can cause blindness and is not always effective, while vitrectomy can result in infection or cataracts.
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