So they generally get more annoying the older you get if you get floaters. Zaugg: So when you get the new floaters coming in, they're very annoying, they're large, there's many of them, and then over time they usually do settle down. Interviewer: All right. Is it something that I should really be worried about, beyond just an annoyance?
Zaugg: So when you get new floaters, you should always be thinking about anything else that's going on with the eye.
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There are definitely associated symptoms that you should pay attention to. A new floater can be a sign of, what we most commonly fear is a retinal detachment.
If you have a retinal detachment or a tear in the retina, those can be, not life threatening, but vision threatening symptoms. So if you have flashing lights, that can mean that there's some tugging or mechanical motion that's happening to the retina.
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The retina only knows light. So if something stimulates it, it sends a message back to the brain that you saw light. The other thing that's really bad with floaters is if you have a dark curtain blocking part of your peripheral vision. That could mean that the retina has folded over on itself and it's detaching, and that can mean that you're having a more serious complication from floaters.
Interviewer: So if I understand correctly, floaters on their own without other symptoms just are part of life. Interviewer: But with some of those other symptoms you mentioned, then that can be an indication of a more serious issue? Zaugg: So if you're over the age of 50 and you're getting a lot of new floaters, then you're a little bit more worried about it, because you're getting the complete collapse or separation of the vitreous from the retina, and it can pull the retina with it.
So those are times when you really want to get an eye exam to really determine, because you're not going to know for sure if you're having a retinal tear or detachment. Sometimes you have no symptoms other than the floater. So getting a complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist can help to distinguish if it's a more serious eye condition.
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Interviewer: That sounds terrifying. But generally, as long as the floaters are the same old floaters, I'm fine? Interviewer: And is there anything that you can do about, first of all, the annoying floaters? Either your brain will start to filter out the floater or gravity will actually bring it down in the eye, so it's not in your visual axis. Usually, they'll come up when you're looking at bright backgrounds. So a lot of times when you're looking at a computer, when you're reading, when you're driving on bright, sunny days.
So outside, something that you can do is wear sunglasses. It filters out the floater a little bit. Inside, if you're working at a computer, it's a little bit more tricky. You can get displays that cover the computer screen that kind of filter it a little bit, use a little bit less contrast in your screen. Sometimes that will diminish the floaters as it bothers you. Interviewer: That's also the gravity thing, is why when I close my eyes, I'll see them float up sometimes, and then I open my eyes and they go away?
Zaugg: Because when your eye closes, your eye actually moves underneath your eyelid and it'll move the floater. Is there anything else that I should be aware of floaters? My kind of takeaway is they're a part of life for a lot of people. There are some things you can do to minimize seeing them if they're bothersome.
If you start getting some new floaters with other symptoms, I should go see someone like you. Zaugg: There's a couple other medical conditions that you should be thinking about other things. So if you're diabetic, sometimes floaters can be a sign of bleeding inside the eye. Diabetics have a lot of eye problems when they're uncontrolled. So they usually have an eye doctor that they've been with, and that would be a reason to get an eye exam more quickly than others. Other things that can happen, if you've had a recent eye surgery, that's a warning sign that something could be going wrong.
So have your eyes examined. There's other rare inflammatory conditions of the eye, in a category called "uveitis," where the floaters can actually be conglomerations of inflammatory cells that could be signs of other serious eye conditions. So the bottom line is if you get a new floater, get an eye exam so that they can determine what's causing it.
If it is one of these benign floaters, then that's great.
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You move on with your life. But we have to make sure that there's not something more serious going on. Zaugg: Well, that kind of depends on how old you are, and if you wear glasses, if you don't wear glasses. Other changes in vision , however, can be symptoms of serious eye disease. Although many age-related vision changes are normal, they can cause problems by interfering with a wide range of everyday activities.
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How do you know the difference between a "normal" change in vision and a change that is more serious? To determine the answer, your doctor will want to know your specific symptoms; thus, the best way to answer this question is to visit your eye care professional for a comprehensive eye examination. Kaye Olson has experienced her own personal journey through vision loss after seeing her eye doctor for what she thought would be a routine eye exam. I think I need a prescription change.
Initially, an ophthalmologist examined me at the clinic, but he told me I that I must see a retinal specialist within 24 hours. The most common age-related vision changes and their effects on everyday activities can include the following:.
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All of us experience good days and bad days, in terms of our general health. However, if you experience any of the following vision changes, it's recommended that you contact your eye doctor immediately:. At any age, it's important to have your eyes checked regularly.
If symptoms or concerns arise, contact your eye care professional as soon as possible. VisionAware helps adults who are losing their sight continue to live full and independent lives by providing timely information, step-by-step daily living techniques, a directory of national and local services, and a supportive online community.
It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician or other professionals as appropriate for medical, legal, financial, and related advice.