Many people can't imagine living without strong eyesight. However, like most things, this sense changes as you age--and it may even develop some issues that make you nervous. One such issue is having dark spots in your vision. Here's what that means and when it's time to visit your eye doctor.
Vision Care FAQs: What Are Those Dark Spots?
Although an eye exam is the best way to diagnose any vision problem, you might be looking for answers in the meantime. Let's find out what those dark spots really mean, what causes them, and what your options might be:
What counts as dark spots?
There are many types of vision disruptions that count as "dark spots." For example, you may see squiggly lines, web-like or thread-like strands, specks, or larger patches of darkness. If you aren't sure exactly what you're seeing, try staring at a blank surface, like a clear blue sky, and keep track of what interrupts your vision.
What are dark spots in your vision?
No matter what their shape, these dark spots are generally called "floaters" or "vitreous floaters."
Floaters are actually collagen built up in your vitreous, which is a clear gel inside your eye. Too much collagen interrupts your vision, much like dirt spots blocking the view out a window.
What causes this issue?
The good news is that floaters aren't a sign of poor vision care. Instead, they're often a normal part of aging. That's because your eye's vitreous begins to shrink and liquefy, making it easier for collagen to clump up and drift around.
However, there are other potential causes of floaters, including:
- Eye trauma.
- Eye surgery.
- Certain eye medications.
- Diabetic health issues.
How are dark spots treated?
Unlike some other medical conditions, there's no at-home remedy for floaters. Luckily, these dark spots are usually just an annoyance and don't necessarily indicate a serious problem.
If you do need treatment, there are two main options, depending on what your eye doctor thinks is best:
In this procedure, your eye's vitreous is removed and replaced with artificial fluid. While this may address your floaters, it can also sometimes cause retinal detachment, serious infections, and cataracts.
Laser treatment, sometimes called laser vitreolysis, begins when your eye doctor dilates your pupils. Then, they aim a laser at your floaters, which helps break up the collagen or even vaporize it.
Although this treatment is less risky, it also can't be used on all floater types. For example, some floaters are too close to the retina, which means lasers could cause other issues.
Can you prevent dark spots in your vision?
If your floaters are caused by aging, there's not much you can do to stop the process. However, you may be able to reduce symptoms or address other causes by paying attention to your vision care. That means:
- Scheduling regular check-ups with your eye doctor.
- Taking vitamins like A, E, and C.
- Getting enough zinc.
- Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Staying hydrated.
- Taking regular breaks from screens.
- Eating a balanced diet.
When to Visit Your Eye Doctor
Floaters may be irritating and even upsetting when you first notice them, but they don't have to be a cause for panic. However, in some cases, vision disruptions can be a sign of something bigger.
If you have these additional symptoms or issues, it's time to head to the eye doctor:
- Pain in or around your eyes.
- Eye trauma or bleeding.
- Temporary vision loss.
- Light flashes.
You might also want to visit your eye doctor when you first notice floaters, especially if these disruptions likely aren't age-related. This helps you get all the information you need about your specific case, how to avoid getting more floaters if possible, and how to take care of your vision throughout your life.
In conclusion, floaters are a strange but not necessarily dangerous vision issue. They can be caused by a variety of elements, including normal aging, and generally don't require treatment. However, it's always smart to schedule a visit with your eye doctor if you have questions.
Do you have dark spots in your vision? Want help with vision care? Contact us today!