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What are eye floaters?

Have you seen dots, squiggles, cobwebs, strings or blobs in your vision recently? You may be experiencing eye floaters, which while common, could be a sign of retinal damage.

Eye floaters can appear in many different shapes and are usually not stationary in your vision, so they move a little as you look around. They usually become more apparent depending on the background you’re looking at. Floaters commonly appear when looking at a cloudy sky, white walls and excel spreadsheets because of the contrast in appearance.

If eye floaters are so common, how do they form?

“We get floaters when there are tiny particles floating around in the eyeball and cast a shadow onto your retina, which is the back wall of your eye you use to see with,” says Dr. Michael Zoelle, optometrist at Aurora Health Center in Fond du Lac, Wis.

While anyone can get floaters, blunt trauma, or eye surgeries could be a likely cause. Additionally, as you mature in age you are more and more likely to notice floaters.

There are two types of floaters, translucent – the most common, and black and bold.

“The more translucent types are from the jelly substance in our eye naturally breaking down,” says Dr. Zoelle. As the jelly breaks down in our eye and gets recycled it clumps up which could cause fiber-like floaters in our vision.”

The black and bolder floaters can be more concerning. They can be a sign of damage to the retina itself like a retinal hole or tear.

While floaters are mostly harmless, it’s important to get any new eye floaters checked by a professional to ensure there is not retinal damage.

“A retinal tear or detachment can cause permanent vision loss or blindness,” says Dr. Zoelle. “While there is not much we can do for floaters themselves, we can repair underlying retinal damage.”

Are you trying to find a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin.

This article originally appeared on health enews.

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