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What are spots and floaters?

Most spots are not harmful and rarely limit vision. But, spots can be indications of more serious problems.  Spots (often called floaters) are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specks or particles within the vitreous, which is the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes.  They appear as specks of various shapes and sizes, threadlike strands or cobwebs.  Because they are within your eyes, they move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

What causes floaters?

Spots are often caused by small flecks of protein or other matter trapped during the formation of your eyes before birth. They can also result from deterioration of the vitreous fluid, due to aging; or from certain eye diseases, injuries or trauma.

Do I need to be concerned if I see new floaters I’ve not noticed before?

Most spots are not harmful and rarely limit vision.  But, spots can be indications of more serious problems, and you should see your optometrist for a comprehensive examination when you notice sudden changes or see increases in them.  If the spots or floaters are of new onset, especially if you had flashes of light associated with its onset, you should not wait for your annual exam, but schedule a medical visit with your eye doctor right away.  Dr. Fife will dilate your eyes and evaluate the vitreous gel as well as the retinal structure to ensure it is intact. 

By looking in your eyes with special instruments, Dr. Fife can examine the health of your eyes and determine if what you are seeing is harmless or the symptom of a more serious problem that requires treatment.

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