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Why Am I Seeing Shadows in My Vision?

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A senior man holding a smartphone and unable to read clearly due to farsightedness.

If you’re seeing shadows in your vision, don’t worry. Shadows can result from floaters, a benign, age-related eye condition. 

Black dots in your vision can be irritating, but since they occur within your eye, you can only wait for them to fade.

Floaters can cause anxiety if they’re unexpected or if you’re under 50. Visit the doctors at Total Vision La Mesa for a thorough eye exam to determine the root cause of your floaters and detect any ocular problems that may be causing them.

Can Floaters Cause Shadows in Your Vision?

Many eye floaters are clumps of collagen that can cast shadows on your retina. They can appear as dark spots, cobwebs, or strings and drift and move around your vision.

Age-related changes can occur in the vitreous, a gel-like substance within the eye, as it liquefies and contracts. As light passes through the cornea and lens, it passes through the vitreous to reach the retina, but floaters can get in the way, casting shadows on your retina.

Causes of Floaters

Most often, aging is the primary cause of floaters. The vitreous becomes less gel-like and more liquified, and the eye becomes crowded with cells and particles that clump together, leading to visual disturbances.

Some less frequent causes of eye floaters can include:

Floaters can be a natural part of aging. By age 70, many people experience floaters. In most cases, floaters dissipate naturally or become less noticeable.

Symptoms of Floaters

Floaters don’t typically cause pain or discomfort, and instead, symptoms include:

  • Small shapes in your vision
  • Spots that move as your eyes shift
  • Spots that are most noticeable when looking at plain, blank backgrounds
  • Strings that settle and drift away

Are Eye Floaters an Emergency?

In many cases, floaters aren’t a significant concern, and treating floaters has more risks than benefits. However, if you experience co-occurring symptoms, you should seek immediate emergency care. Symptoms include:

  • Developing eye pain
  • Floaters occurring more often or with greater intensity
  • Losing peripheral vision
  • Experiencing unusual blurry vision or vision loss
  • Seeing light flashes

If you’re seeing floaters, visit Total Vision La Mesa to assess your eyes and determine if it’s caused by normal aging or something more serious, like a retinal tear, retinal detachment, or a vitreous hemorrhage.

  • Retinal tear: the liquified vitreous can begin to pull on the retina, and the stress can cause the retina to tear completely
  • Retinal detachment: if a retinal tear is left untreated, the retina can detach from the eye, leading to permanent vision loss
  • Vitreous Hemorrhage: blood vessel leaks, injury, or infection can cause eye bleeding and floaters
A senior man and his female optometrist performing an eye exam using a medical device to detect eye problems.

How Are Eye Floaters Treated?

Eye floaters are generally harmless, and while they can disrupt your vision, they rarely cause problems. If your floaters are a symptom of diabetic retinopathy, uveitis, or an eye injury, treating the underlying problem can help alleviate them.

In severe cases of eye floaters, laser removal or surgery may be considered. Laser surgery, or vitreolysis, breaks up the floaters to make them less noticeable. However, laser surgery can be a hit or a miss, and with the severe risk of retinal damage, it’s not widely used.

A surgical procedure, vitrectomy, removes the vitreous and replaces it with a sterile salt solution to maintain the eye’s shape. With both options, there’s no guarantee that the eye floaters will be broken up or removed, and they don’t prevent new floaters from forming.

Optometrists agree that, in most cases, leaving floaters alone is the best course of action. They become less noticeable over time, and you learn to adapt to having them. 

Visit Total Vision La Mesa for an Eye Exam

Schedule an appointment at Total Vision La Mesa to address your eye concerns. While most floaters are harmless and don’t need intervention, discussing the symptoms with your optometrist during a comprehensive eye exam can help determine that your eyes’ structures are healthy.

Written by Total Vision

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