By Dan Amyx, Owner Treasure Coast Opticians / Board Certified Optician ABOC, NCLC, NAO
If you’re seeing spots or “floaters” in your vision on occasion; it’s likely just your eyes playing tricks on you.
Most everybody has “floaters,” but nobody wants them. I’m not referring to the Baby Ruth candy bar in the Caddy Shack movie! I’m referring to those floating spots that sometimes invade your vision.
As a child of nine, I thought the moving spots I’d see on a bright sunny day, were actually microscopic bugs living in my tears. It was later that I found out that I was actually seeing the shadows of molecules.
You see, the eyeball is kept round or “inflated” with a transparent gel-like liquid called the vitreous humor. This liquid is somewhat like the “white” of an uncooked egg, and is about 99 percent water yet has a viscosity of two to four times that of pure water. It has no blood vessels. The other one percent is made up of various proteins such as collagen.
Sometimes these protein molecules will stick together and create large molecular strands, like the thicker strand of protein attached to the egg yolk. When light shines through the vitreous and hits the retina, the protein strands block the light like a cloud on a sunny day. The resulting floater leaves a shadow image on the retina and this is what we actually see. They are especially noticeable when you gaze at a featureless, light colored background like the blue sky.
Since the floater is trapped in the gel-like substance, it is usually in a fixed position. This is why, when you look away the floater seems to disappear and then return again. The process of turning your eye temporarily shifts the position of the vitreous only to return to its normalized condition, returning the floater to its original place.
Sources suggest that it is unusual for children to have floaters. However, they do become more frequent as we age because the vitreous tends to shrink and the collagen breaks down into fibrils, ultimately becoming floaters.
Other causes of floaters include the detachment of the vitreous from the retina, and retinal tearing -– creating the appearance of both floaters and flashes of light. If you ever experience numerous flashes of light you need to go to an ophthalmologist immediately.
In most cases floaters are merely a nuisance that we have to deal with (along with all the other challenges) as we age — and hopefully become wiser — in time.
Dan Amyx is the owner of Treasure Coast Opticians and is a board certified optician, ABOC, NCLC, NAO. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 772-569-4822.
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Treasure Coast Opticians
715 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960
Open M-F 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday by Appointment