Floaters can be a symptom of a variety of ophthalmic conditions including vitreous opacities and vitreous detachment. They are commonly noticed in people that are nearsighted (myopic,) who have a history of ocular inflammation, have had cataract surgery, and/or have a history of YAG laser surgery. Many people notice them as they grow older looking at a lightly colored, uniform background. Persons with complaints of new floaters should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist to identify a cause for the symptoms. Floaters can consist of clumps of vitreous gel, cells, or in rare cases crystalline deposits floating in the clear gel filling the posterior segment of the eye. Surgical intervention for vitreous opacities is rare and performed in only those cases where the patient’s day to day living is drastically hindered and the condition is medically significant enough to warrant the risks of surgical intervention. These risks include loss of vision, loss of the eye, infection, and/or retinal detachment among others.

A vitreous detachment is a settling and pulling away of the clear gel that fills the eye from the back wall of the eye. Rarely, this gel can pull hard enough to tear or detach the retina, the ‘seeing’ layer of the eye. Vitreous detachments happen almost to everyone, but rarely cause retinal tears or detachments. With any change in vision, you should consult your eye doctor immediately.

We, at The Retina Center can do vitrectomies for floaters for certain special conditions. An examination is needed to know if surgery is warranted.

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