What is an eye floater?
At Clinica London, we see many patients who are concerned because they have a troublesome eye floater which has suddenly turned up in their vision. Sometimes they can have a flashing light that they notice at the same time, but more often they start to notice this floater present in the morning when they wake up. The striking feature that it will often move with the vision when the eye moves. It is more apparent when seen with a clear sky background or against a white wall or even looking down reading.
It is certainly worth getting your eye checked if you develop an eye floater. The reason being that some floaters, only a small minority, do represent more serious pathology and so you should have a full ophthalmic assessment with a retinal examination.
The reason that a floater has to be taken seriously is that it can sometimes be as a result of a tear in the retina. A tear in the retina can then lead to a detached retina, which if not caught early enough, can affect your vision. The majority of floaters are sinister and represent a change in the vitreous jelly of the eye, called a posterior vitreous detachment or PVD, but some are more ominous and herald a retinal detachment.
If a floater represents a little bit of retina that had come away, a retinal hole will result. The retinal hole can let in fluid under the retina and cause either a localised retinal detachment or more extensive detachment, if not caught and treated early.
Early treatment of a retinal hole to prevent detachment is lasering around the hole, to seal the retina to the underlying choroid and prevent fluid seepage under the retina.
If there is already a small detachment, with a ring of sub-retinal fluid, it can sometimes still be lasered safely and prevent progression. If there is a lot of fluid, then vireo-retinal surgery is necessary to save vision. If the retinal fluid gets under the sensitive part of the retina called the macula, then even with vitreoretinal surgery, full vision cannot always be restored.
At Clinica London, we see patients urgently when they have worries about their vision, whether it is blurred vision, loss of vision or a troublesome eye floater. All patients are seen by a Consultant Ophthalmologist very experienced in examining the retina.
Our Ophthalmic Specialists are Professor Michel Michaelides, Mr Jaheed Khan, Miss Laura Crawley, Miss Jane Olver. Professor Michaelides and Jaheed Khan are both medical retinal specialists.
If you have a floater, especially if there is an associated flashing light, and your symptoms are new, then you must be seen urgently to have reassurance or treatment.
If you have any shadowing associated with your floater or new symptoms of flashing light or shadowing on top of an old floater, you should be seen urgently for an eye examination by one of our specialist ophthalmologists.