What are eye floaters? What causes them?

Eye floaters and flashes are becoming more common around the people today. Eye floaters are a collective term for the specks and cobweb-like shades appear in the line of vision. The flashes are occasional light sparks in the vision. Sometimes, a large speck could appear and block your vision for an instant. They may appear in one eye or both.
Eye floaters
Eye floaters are more apparent when people look at something bright. They move when you move your eyes and dart out when you try to focus on them. Although they do not cause any pain, or are not really harmful for the sight, it is a subject of disturbance. Over time, people learn to ignore the floaters and live with it. But it becomes difficult to do so when the number of them grows up and the person will have to consider a treatment.
Eye floaters are mostly caused by protein flecks in the eye. The images of the things we see are formed on the retina, a screen of sorts made by cells at the back of the eye. The cornea and lens at the front of the eye focus light onto the retina. Before it reaches the retina, light passes through a gel-like substance inside the eyeball, named vitreous humour. The vitreous humour is part that forms almost 80% of the eye and the cause of its round shape. It is the changes to this substance that is the primary cause of eye floaters. Aging is an important factor in these changes. With age, the vitreous humour begins to liquefy and shrink. It is filled with millions of protein flecks called collagens. When the vitreous humor shrinks, it becomes stringy and when the strands are caught in the path of light, they create shadows over the eye. These are what appear as floaters.
Eye floaters are usually found in old people. It is estimated that a quarter of people above 60 are affected by them. But there are other less common causes as well. An eye accident, cataract, nearsightedness and diabetes all could trigger eye floaters.
Sometimes, they could be a symptom of more serious condition. A person may experience a sudden increase in the number of floaters and it is a matter of concern. If it is accompanied by pain, flashes or partial loss of vision, the person should seek medical attention immediately. The floaters can be warning sign of serious problems like Retinal Tear, Vitreous Hemorrhage and Vitreous Detachment.
Although, eye floaters don’t require treatment unless it is related with serious ailments mentioned above, some people do undergo laser treatment or vitrectomy. Others, usually learn to ignore it and it will eventually settle down.

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