It is a normal aging change to occasionally notice a spot, strand, or speck “floating” through your field of vision. You may even notice that they stand out more if you are looking at light backgrounds. These are common findings.
The inside of the eyeball is partially composed of a clear, jelly-like material called the vitreous. As we age, the jelly-like consistency changes to a more liquefied form. During this change, small particles of tissue may come together. Since the vitreous cavity lies in front of the retina, these particles cast a shadow on the retina, resulting in the perception of a floater in your field of vision.
During the aging process, as the jelly turns to a liquid form, the vitreous cavity will shrink and may pull or tug on the surface of the retina at its attachment sites. Sometimes, the vitreous cavity will detach from the retina without causing you any symptoms at all. Again, this would be considered a normal aging change. Other times, the “tugging” action will cause stimulation of the photoreceptor cells of the retina, which in turn causes your perception of experiencing a flash of light in your field of vision. This becomes a more serious issue if the retina tissue tears during the vitreous detachment process. Even a small tear in the retina can lead to a retinal detachment, and thus early intervention and prevention need to be taken. If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact your eye care professional immediately.
It is important to remember, although floaters are a normal finding in a healthy eye, let your doctor know that you do indeed see them. If you ever notice an increase in the number of floaters, an increase in the size of the floaters, or floaters accompanied by flashes of light, call your eye care professional immediately, as this could be a more serious condition.