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Seeing Dark Spots and Floaters…When ‘Vitreous Degeneration’ Occurs

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The shrinkage of the vitreous in the eyeball that causes dark spots and floating threads in the field of vision is not considered to be an illness and does not pose any danger to the sufferer. It is merely an issue that causes vision-related annoyance for which there are no forms of treatment available. However, the sufferer will make the necessary adjustment so that they will eventually become used to living with the condition.
  • Vitreous degeneration is a normal change which commonly affects the elderly, those who suffer from short sightedness, and people who have undergone cataract surgery, laser therapy as well as those suffering from inflammation in the eyeball.

 

PVD-eye

What is vitreous?

Vitreous is found at the back of the eyeball and is a clear gelatinous substance that provides nutrients to the retina and cells present inside the inner walls of the eyeball. It is responsible for stabilizing the eyeball and ensuring that light is refracted directly onto the retina. Vitreous is made up 99% water and various molecules, with fiber making up the remaining 1%.

Causes of vitreous degeneration

As we enter middle age, vitreous begins to deteriorate and its structure transforms from being gelatinous into a more fluid-like texture. It also shrinks and the fibers found in its structure mix with the liquid to form spots or threads within the eyeball. The shrinking of the vitreous causes it to detach from the back of the retina, which leads to the dark spots or shadows to float around within the eyeball.

Vitreous degeneration is a normal change which commonly affects the elderly, those who suffer from short sightedness, and people who have undergone cataract surgery or laser therapy as well as those suffering from inflammation in the eyeball.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include seeing dark spots in the field of vision with these spots floating around, following the movement of our eyeballs. They are more clearly visible in well-lit spaces, and when looking at a bright wall or white screen such as reading something written on white paper, for example. Sometimes, there may be flashes or flashing visible to the sufferer. This occurs when the vitreous pulls back the retina. That being said, none of the aforementioned symptoms are considered as being an illness and are not a risk to the eyeball itself. They are merely a vision-related annoyance to the person experiencing them. However, as times passes, the dark spots and floaters will appear to gradually decrease due to the person getting used to the condition and adjusting accordingly, reducing any annoyance.

Symptoms that should necessitate a visit to an Ophthalmologist?

  • New dark spots, shadows and floaters occurring frequently and consistently.
  • Flashing appearing within the eyeball that does not go away.
  • Experiencing other sight-related irregularities, such as a loss of sight through one side of vision or a reduction in the field of vision.

If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should make an appointment with an Ophthalmologist to assess whether the retina has been damaged or detached. Early diagnosis and treatment in such cases can prevent against permanent blindness.


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Mongkol Tadarati, M.D. Summary: Ophthalmology Ophthalmology