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What am I seeing?

Do you ever look at a bright white wall, computer screen or up at the sky and see squiggly lines or translucent dots in your vision? They can also resemble threadlike strands, cobwebs or small rings. They may even momentarily go away and then show up again. What are they? Why are they there? Do other people see them? If you've noticed these objects, you are definitely not alone. Many patients have asked these very questions while in the exam room.

We call these objects floaters and they are found in the vitreous - the gel that fills the back of our eyes. As we age, the pieces of collagen that make up the vitreous can become larger and eventually cast a shadow on the retina in the right kind of lighting. Most people have floaters but some are just larger and more distracting than others. Most people will tend to notice a slow increase in floaters as they get older. While they can be annoying, they rarely cause even a mild reduction in vision.

Whenever a patient notices a sudden increase in floaters, it could be a sign of something more serious going on. This is especially true if you notice any lightning streaks or flashes of light in your vision. It is important to get examined quickly by an eye doctor whenever symptoms like these are noticed as it could be a sign of a retinal tear, detachment or another condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment.

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