Floaters In One Eye Only
“Floaters” are deposits/condensation in the vitreous humor, which is the material filling the posterior area of your eye. The term “floater” is used because people describe this phenomenon as seeing spots that appear to float/move when they are looking around. You can develop floaters in one or both of your eyes.
Reason People Notice Eye Floaters
The cornea and lens- which are the structures in the front of your eye- focus light rays into the retina. Light coming from the images around you are focused onto the retina so that you can see things. The light goes through the vitreous humor on its way to your retina. The vitreous humor is a gel-like substance that is in the back 2/3 of your eye and from birth through your childhood years, is clear.
As we age, this clear, gel-like substance begins to break down and strands, pockets, or deposits commonly develop. Each of these casts a small shadow onto the surface and can be perceived as “floaters” to the individual. Typically, these are grey to light black and as the eye moves around, the “floaters” change position within the eye, which makes shadows move/appear to float.
What do “Floaters” Look Like?
People typically describe floaters as curved lines, spots, strings, O/C shaped blobs, or straight lines. Some will only see one floater, while others will seem to see hundreds. The lines can appear to be branched and can be thick or thin. Most of the time, they appear to be black to gray in color and are darker in the background.
The density of these “floaters” will vary within an eye. Floaters are typically more noticeable under certain lighting conditions and are more “visible” when looking up at a bright, clear blue sky. You will rarely be able to see floaters when there is a reduction in illumination.
Eye floaters are much like fingerprints- there are no two people who will have exactly the same pattern of floaters. If you have eye floaters in both of your eyes, the patterns will be different. Additionally, when you have floaters, the pattern is likely to change over time.
Eye floaters are darker than the background you are looking at and you’re not going to see them in the dark or with your eyes closed. This is different from flashes, which you will experience even in the dark and with your eyes closed.
Common Causes of Eye Floaters
Eye conditions/issues that result in a change in the clarity of the vitreous humor can cause eye floaters to occur. As we age, there are some normal changes that take place with the vitreous humor.
The gel-like substance will begin to liquefy, which causes pockets of liquid vitreous to lie within the firm vitreous. This is known as vitreous syneresis. If this is the case for you, you’ll see these appear as one or more floaters.
Additionally, it’s normal for collagen fibers within the vitreous to thicken and increase in density with age, which causes eye floaters. Anyone who is 50 or over is more than likely going to have these changes within their eyes. However, the degree to which these eye floaters are produced will vary from one person to the next.
Posterior Vitreal Detachment
As we age, and the vitreous humor begins to break down, the structure the gel is in also shrinks. This can lead to the vitreous- which is normally attached to the retina at the edge of the optic nerve- to shrink. As this happens, it causes the optic nerve attachment to be released.
This means that the attachment is now floating within the eye, which can cause one or more floaters that can seem circular and rather large. The back surface of the vitreous is now floating in the eye, casting shadows on the retina, causing floaters. This is known as posterior vitreal detachment, or PVD. This is different than a retinal detachment.
Approximately half of individuals 65 years old will experience this in at least one eye- if not both. If you develop PVD in only one eye, chances are you will have it in the other one within 18 months.
As you can see, floaters are perfectly normal. You can have them in one eye or both- but chances are if you have them in only one, you will eventually have them in the other. There are some options for correction, but anything involving surgery brings along with it some risks that are not worth it. It’s best to try some natural remedies or learn to live with it.