Floaters and Posterior Vitreous Detachment
Floaters can be a persistent, annoying problem. Worse than that, they can be an early sign of diabetic retinopathy, a potentially blinding condition. Here is what your optometrist at Eye Clinic of Sandpoint, Idaho, Dr. Brayden Petersen wants you to know about floaters.
Floaters Are Spots That Obscure Your Vision
Have you ever heard the expression "Seeing spots before your eyes?" That's the experience of floaters.
The inside of the eyeball is filled with a substance called the vitreous. It normally has a consistency of egg white. It's not really solid, but it's not really liquid, either.
As we get older, the vitreous tends to liquefy. This makes it pull away from the back of the eye, your retina. When the vitreous begins to detach, it can pull tiny bits of tissue away from your optic nerve. These bits of tissue begin to float inside your eye, becoming much more noticeable in bright light.
Diabetic Retinopathy Can Cause Severe "Floaters"
People who have diabetes tend to develop a condition called retinopathy. It can happen as soon as five years after the first diagnosis in type 1 diabetics, and about 10 to 15 years after diagnosis in type II diabetics.
High insulin levels (if you have type II diabetes, both your blood sugar levels and your blood insulin levels tend to be high) cause white blood cells called macrophages to get "stuck" in the tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to your retina. Your eyes try to compensate for this problem by building new vessels, but these tiny, twisting vessels break and bleed. Drops of blood can appear to rain down inside your eye, and the debris inside your eye can give the impression you are looking through a snow globe.
Floaters Usually Require Medical Treatment
If you have bleeding in your eye, the treatment you need is to stop the bleeding. Dr. Petersen can refer you to a specialist who does laser surgery or administers injections into your eyes to make the bleeding stop. These procedures aren't pleasant, but they aren't especially painful, either. No one should be afraid of getting these kinds of treatments.
For other kinds of floaters, there is a treatment called vitrectomy. The eye surgeon usually uses three needles to remove the vitreous in the eye, and in less than 24 hours, in many cases, the eye regenerates it. This procedure may provide a permanent cure.
Dr. Petersen can advise you on when you need these procedures (and when you don't), and refer you to the surgeon. Then Dr. Petersen can help you with your recovery.