A big number of people see floaters or black spots in their vision. If you have had eye floaters for some time, you don’t have to get yourself worrying. But if you encounter a sudden increase in floaters, or begin to see flashes in your vision, you should see an eye specialist straight away. They may stand out when you look at something bright, like white paper or a blue sky. They might annoy you, but they should not interfere with your sight.
If you have large black spots in vision, they can cast a slight shadow over your sight. But this tends to happen only in certain types of light. You can learn to live with floaters and ignore them. You may notice them less as time passes. Only rarely do they get bad enough to require treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of eye floaters?
Black spots on vision earn their name as floaters from moving around in someone’s eye. They tend to dart away when you try to focus on them. They come in many different shapes:
- Black or gray dots
- Squiggly lines
- Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and almost see-through
Once you get them, they usually don’t go away. But they might get better over time.
What causes black spots on vision?
Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen. They’re part of a gel-like substance in the back of the eye called the vitreous. As you age, the protein fibers that make up the vitreous shrink down to little shreds that clump together. The shadows they cast on your retina are floaters. If you see a flash, it’s because the vitreous has pulled away from the retina. If that happens, see your doctor.
These changes can happen at any age, but usually occur between 50 and 75. You are more likely to have black spots on vision if you’re shortsighted or have had cataract surgery. Eye floaters may be caused by:
Age-related eye changes.
Eye floaters most commonly occur as a result of age-related changes in the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that fills your eyeballs and helps maintain their round shape. Over time, the vitreous partially liquefies by a process that causes it to pull away from the eyeball’s interior surface. As the vitreous shrinks and sags, it clumps and gets stringy. Bits of this debris block some of the light passing through the eye, casting tiny black spots on vision or your retina.
An inflammation that occur inside the eye
Posterior uveitis is an inflammation in the layers of the uvea in the back of the eye. Posterior uveitis, which can cause eye floaters, may be caused by infection or inflammatory diseases, among other causes.
Bleeding in the eye
Bleeding into the vitreous can have many causes, including injury and blood vessel problems.
Retinal tears can occur when a sagging vitreous tugs on the retina with enough force to tear it. Without treatment, retinal tear may lead to retinal detachment — an accumulation of fluid behind the retina that causes it to separate from the back of your eye. Untreated retinal detachment may cause permanent vision loss.
Black Spots in Vision not Floaters
It is most probably not your imagination; you are probably experiencing it. Vitreous black spots in vision are usually perceived as floaters. The vitreous is the clear liquid that fills the eye. It is jelly-like, almost like clear gelatin.
The Normal Eye
The human eye is like a hollow globe filled with fluid. Behind the lens, and filling all the posterior portion of the eye, is the Vitreous Humor. It is normally a transparent viscous liquid, similar to egg white in consistency. A thin membrane that is attached to the retina contains the vitreous humor.
Before the picture is focused sharply on the retina, the light passes through the clear vitreous fluid of the eye, just as the light would pass through the air in a camera. The vitreous must always be crystal clear if the eye is to provide crystal clear vision. Any spots in the vitreous will appear as black spots on vision to the viewer.
When the vitreous fluid inside the eye moves, the vitreous membrane may pull on the retina, causing a flashing sensation, although in fact there is not such light inside the eye. A similar sensation sometimes happens when you hit your eye and see stars. Flashes can appear once or from time to time over several weeks.
They can be associated with a great number of new floaters and even with partial loss of the visual field. These symptoms may be associated with a retinal detachment. Sometimes there are no floaters, only flashes. Sometimes a retinal tear gives no warning at all. It is not always possible for the patient to assess the significance.
What to do about Vitreous black spots on vision or Flashes?
Without an exam done by your eye care specialist, you cannot know if your flashes are serious or if they represent any danger to your eye. A significant change in your flashes should alert you to the fact that there has been a change inside your eye. It is wise to have these changes evaluated quickly to safeguard your eyesight.
An early diagnosis of a retinal tear can result in a five minute, painless laser treatment with excellent probability of success. Delay in diagnosis can result in the need for major eye surgery in the operating room with lesser probabilities for success. This eye exam usually includes a detailed observation of the retina and vitreous humor. Drops that dilate the pupil are necessary in the examination the peripheral retina.
Other Type of Flashes
Flashes that look like a jagged line or heat waves and last from 10 to 20 minutes, in both eyes, are often due to migraine headaches caused by a spasm of the cerebral blood vessels. If they are followed by a headache, they are called cephalic migraines. However, these jagged lines or heat waves can happen without the headache and they are called ophthalmic migraines.
When to See the Doctor
If you only have a few eye floaters that don’t change over time, don’t sweat it. Go to the doctor ASAP if you notice:
- A sudden increase in the number of floaters
- Flashes of light
- A loss of side vision
- Changes that come on quickly and get worse over time
- Floaters after eye surgery or eye trauma
- Eye pains
Choose a doctor who has experience with retina problems. If you don’t get help right away, you could lose your sight.
Sudden Black Spots in Vision
A sudden burst of floaters can be a warning sign that a tear is starting to develop in the retina, the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye. An early-stage retinal tear can be treated by an eye doctor with laser surgery that creates a weld around the edges of the tear and usually keeps the retina from detaching.
Some researchers say there are a variety of risk factors for retinal detachments, including being extremely nearsighted, having a family history of the problem and aging. (It also affects more men than women, as they report.)
Many spontaneous tears occur in boomers who develop posterior vitreous separation. This degenerative condition occurs in 30 percent of people older than 50, according to William L. Rich III, an ophthalmologist based in Falls Church.
Most people think retinal detachments come from trauma, such as being hit by an air bag in an auto accident or getting hit with a racquetball or tennis ball. In fact, most happen while you’re walking down the street or even sleeping. As we age, the vitreous jelly, which holds the retina in place, begins to liquefy. When the vitreous gets less gel-like, it can detach from the back of the eye. As the vitreous starts to detach, it may pull on the retina and cause a tear. The dark shadow I had dismissed Thursday was my retina starting to tear, the liquefied vitreous gel leaking through.
Seeing Black Spots and Dizzy
There are numerous conditions associated with dizziness, floating spots or strings in vision, headache and jerking eye movements. In this discussion, we will provide you with more detailed information on these medical conditions that are commonly associated with these black spots on vision and help provide a better understanding of causes and treatment of these related conditions.
- Middle ear infection – A middle ear infection puts pressure on the eardrum, causing pain and, sometimes, hearing loss.
- Labyrinthis – this is an infection and swelling in the inner ear and it may cause vertigo or hearing loss. It is also associated with black spots on vision.
- Benign eye floaters – these kinds of floaters are tiny floating specks or cobwebs that are usually seen in your vision.
- Diabetes type 2 – Diabetes can make you feel hungry, tired, or thirsty; you may urinate more than normal and have blurry vision. To add on that we have Tension headaches, caused by muscle tension, are marked by pain, pressure and tightness around the head, medication side effects include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, weakness, dizziness, seizures, and more.
Diabetes can make you feel hungry, tired, or thirsty; you may urinate more than normal and have blurry vision. Also, Heat exhaustion causes intense thirst, heavy sweating, pale, cool, and moist skin, muscle cramps, and more. High blood pressure, often asymptomatic, can cause headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, and anxiety. An insulin reaction is the result of low blood sugar and causes anxiety, hunger, shaking, dizziness, and more.
Generally, vitreous floaters are of little importance and are part of the aging process. Romans used to call these floaters muscae volitantes, or flying flies. Many patients perceive these as annoyances that come and go. Floaters can go away when gravity pulls them down below the line of sight. They may come back if something shakes the fluids of the eye, raising them back into the field of vision.
Almost everyone will see floaters at one time or another. Black spots in vision sometimes interfere with vision and they can be quite annoying. If a floater appears directly in front of your line of vision, the best thing you can do is to move the eye. This causes the internal liquids to move making the floater move out of your line of sight.
As we age, the vitreous gel may liquefy. Eventually this thinned out gel can collapse pulling the membrane that surrounds it away from the retina. This can be called either a vitreous separation or vitreous detachment. These terms are used interchangeably and should not be confused with a retinal detachment, which is much more serious. Frequently, the collapsed vitreous gel will have many compressed strands and cells in it.
The patient may see this as floaters, a web or a veil in front of his eyes. This may persist until it disintegrates or drops below the line of sight. These are especially common in myopic (nearsighted) people, after eye trauma or after surgery. This, in itself is not dangerous. Other less common causes of floaters are inflammation inside the eye or whitish deposits formed in the vitreous humor (known as Asteroid Hyalosis). Patients usually learn to tolerate these spots.
Black spots in vision can have varying degrees of significance, depending on what causes them, most floaters are harmless. However, there are more significant causes for floaters. Sometimes, the vitreous membrane pulls and creates a tear in the retina. Unless this tear is closed, fluid can get through this hole in the retina and cause a retinal detachment. Often the patient sees a shower of black spots in vision.
There may be thousands of these black flashes in your vision, representing blood cells liberated from a break in a retinal blood vessel caused by the retinal tear. There may be so many floaters that it appears as though a bag of pepper has broken or that a blizzard of black snow has occurred. Severe flashes of light may occur.
Black Spot in Vision one Eye
Floaters appear as black spots or something that looks like a hair or small pieces of cobweb. These can be semi-transparent or dark and appear to float in front of your vision on one side of the eye. If you have had these for years, your eye and your brain learn to ignore them. Sometimes the number of floaters increases as you get older. Occasionally an increase in floaters can be a sign of problems inside the eye.
Because they float in the jelly of your eye, you will find that if you move your eye to try to look at a floater it will move away in the direction you move your eye. You might only see the floater if you are staring at a light coloured surface or at the sky during the day.
Some people find that floaters can be a nuisance, but most people become used to them. They rarely cause problems with your vision.
Why do black spots in vision occur in one eye?
Some people are born with floaters as some research have revealed. Other floaters occur as you get older when the gel in the eye, the vitreous humour, naturally shrinks. The gel separates watery fluid and wavy collagen fibrils. The fibrils are seen as line-shaped black spots in the vision. Sometimes the gel shrinks enough to collapse away from the light sensitive lining at the back of your eye, which is called the retina. Once the gel has collapsed, some people see a large ring-shaped floater.
The collapse of vitreous gel can pull on your retina. If this happens you would see this as flashes of light which are also referred to as flashes page.
Floaters can also be as a result of some eye diseases that cause inflammation. This is not very common.
People at risk may include:
- Short-sighted people
- People that have had an eye operation such as cataract surgery
- People that have had laser treatment after cataract surgery
What should I do if I have floaters in one eye?
Most of the time floaters are harmless to your health. Sometimes they may be annoying, but treatment is not advised to get rid of them as they can go away on their own. Furthermore, the mind will ignore the condition hence making it not realized or is forgotten.
Occasionally a sudden increase in black spots in vision of one of your eye, either one or more large ones or a shower of tiny ones, may be a sign of a more serious eye disease such as retinal detachment which should not be ignored at all. If that occurs you should consult your optometrist who will conduct some examinations to ascertain the condition and corrective treatment thereafter.
Black Spots in Vision Treatment
In most cases, floaters don’t cause significant problems and don’t require treatment.
Eye drops or similar types of medication are usually not effective and they may not make black spots in vision to disappear. After a while, your brain may learn to ignore floaters and you may come to notice that they don’t bother you anymore.
Monitoring your condition
If you have black spots in vision, your optician may ask you to return for a follow-up appointment two to six months after your symptoms begin, to check that your retina is in good condition. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells that line the inside of the back of your eye.
If your vision is unaffected and your floaters aren’t getting any worse, you may be advised to have an eye appointment every one to two years. However, if your symptoms worsen at any time, you should seek immediate advice from either your GP or optician.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the vitreous humour in your eye, along with any floating debris, and replace it with a saline (salty) solution.
A vitrectomy may be recommended as a possible treatment option if you have floaters that don’t improve over time, or if they significantly affect your vision. However, vitrectomies are rarely carried out due to risks associated with eye surgery, and the procedure may not be available on the NHS.
Before having a vitrectomy, your eye will be numbed with a local anesthetic. During the procedure, the vitreous humour will be removed from the vitreous body of your eye and replaced with saline solution.
As the vitreous humour is mostly made up of water, you won’t notice any difference to your vision after having a vitrectomy. However, possible complications may include:
- retinal tears
- retinal detachment
- Cataracts which is also characterized by cloudy patches in the lens of the eye.
Laser treatment for eye floaters
Some clinics now offer treatment where a laser is aimed at black spots in vision or floaters to break them up or move them towards the edge of your field of vision. It is usually thought this may be a simpler and safer alternative to vitrectomy for persistent floaters. However, there has not been much in-depth research into the treatment, and its safety and effectiveness is still not yet been guaranteed to be 100 percent.
The treatment is rarely used in the UK and is not widely available. It is also very unlikely to be funded on the NHS, so you will usually have to pay for it privately in case you need it. If you want to try private laser treatment, make sure you know the risks and uncertainties before going ahead.
- Eye floaters causes and treatment: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/benign-eye-floaters#1
- Black spot in vision causes: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eye-floaters/basics/causes/con-20033061
- Dizziness, floating spots in vision and headache: http://symptomchecker.webmd.com/multiple-symptoms?symptoms=dizziness%7Cfloating-spots-or-strings-in-vision%7Cheadache%7Cjerking-eye-movements&symptomids=81%7C285%7C115%7C519&locations=2%7C3%7C2%7C3
- Floaters treatment: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Floaters/Pages/Treatment.aspx
- Dark spots in vision: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/symptoms/dark-spots
- Eye floaters and flashes: http://www.eyeinstitute.co.nz/the-eye/eye-problems-and-symptoms/eye-floaters-and-flashes.htm