“Will this happen again?” I asked.
Probably not in the same eye, he said, but it could happen to the other one.
If it does, at least I’ll know what to do.
Finally, the diagnosis: vitreous hemorrhage in my left eye, bleeding that has already caused permanent damage to my eyesight and would blind me completely in that eye — probably within months, the doctor said — if left untreated. Fortunately, there is a treatment, a drug to be injected directly into my eye.
See an eye doctor within 24 to 48 hours if you have a new floater, experience a sudden “storm” of floaters, see a gray curtain or shadow move across your field of vision, or have a sudden decrease in vision.
A new onset of floaters does not necessarily mean a retinal detachment. Floaters can also represent vitreous synergisms- a normal age-related degeneration of the vitreous, or could represent the presence red blood cells or white blood cells in the jelly. Both of these are also very serious problems and so anyone with new floaters should be taken seriously.
Floaters come in various shapes and sizes. They can be big or small. They can look like dots, flecks, threads, cobwebs or even clear little bubbles. And it’s common to have several floaters of different shapes and sizes at the same time.
While they may be annoying, eye floaters are generally harmless. It is rare that an eye floater will significantly impair vision, and the majority of people can learn to live with them.
Very occasionally, floaters can herald the onset of a serious condition. A sudden change in floaters, especially alongside flashing lights in your vision, can indicate a retinal detachment. This is where the retina – the light sensitive membrane of the eye – separates from the back of the eye, causing sight loss. Retinal detachment is usually treatable but needs urgent medical treatment.
The vitreous slowly shrinks with age, causing it to become a bit stringy. The strands cast shadows on the retina, causing floaters. About one-quarter of people have some vitreous shrinkage with floaters by their 60s; that rises to about two-thirds of 80-year-olds. Floaters also appear more often in people who are nearsighted, those who have had cataract surgery or a previous eye injury, and those with diabetes. Although most people tolerate floaters just fine, others feel that floaters affect their vision and disrupt their ability to read.
A sudden cascade of new floaters, plus the presence of quick flashes of light at the edge of your vision are two red flags that something might be seriously wrong. In particular, the flashes may indicate that the vitreous is tugging on the retina.
Many times, people don’t stop to think about what these flecks might be – they think these are insects or stray eyelashes. In reality, these flecks are tiny floaters drifting around the inside of your eye. Mostly, these floaters are completely harmless, even though the thought of having something floating in your eye may sound strange and scary.
A patient with vitreous hemorrhage may present with complaints of floaters, haziness, perception of shadows, or cobwebs. It is usually painless. Visual acuity may be affected variably depending upon the amount of blood in the visual axis.
A wait-and-see approach is usually adopted, as mildest bleedings are usually spontaneously reabsorbed in a 2 or 3-month period.