When it comes to the parts of your eye, most of the important things that make it work are the muscles and nerves that control how we see and how your eye moves, as well as the cornea, pupil, iris, and other parts in font of the eye that take in the light for the brain to translate into what you see. But what about the big part in the middle that shows up as the white in your eyes? It is known as the vitreous and aqueous humor and it also has a significant role to play in how your eyes work. The aqueous humor is responsible for eye pressure, while the vitreous humor gives your eyes the nutrients they need and helps maintain its shape.
There are several conditions that can affect this part of the eye, like glaucoma, uveitis, macular holes, and macular degeneratio. Floaters are another common issue that can affect this area of the eye. They are often harmless, but there are times when they might be indications of other problems. Let’s explore what floaters are, what they mean for your eye health, and what can be done to treat them.
The aqueous and vitreous humor in your eye are about 98-99% water with substances like salts, sugars, proteins, collagen, amino acids, and electrolytes. Vitreous humor makes up about 80% of this area, and this is where floaters are found. You know those translucent shapes you sometimes see that move around while you’re looking at things? Those are floaters and can appear in a variety of shapes like spots, spider-like objects, and squiggly lines. No two people will see the exact same thing, but the idea of translucent shapes floating in the eye should still evoke the same general idea.
Floaters are often the result of collagen collecting in small amounts after breaking down protein fibers in your vitreous humor, and what you see is the shadow they cast on your retina. They’re generally minor, become less noticeable over time, and are often caused by inflammation or age related changes. However, they can also be due to more serious conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, eye injury or disease, tumors, or damage to your retina, such as a detachment or tearing. If the amount of floaters you have doesn't increase over time and you notice them less, there’s nothing to worry about, but if you experience more floaters, light flashes, loss of side vision, quick changes that worsen over time, or eye pain you should get help as soon as possible.
Mild cases don’t usually require treatment, but if they reach the point where they’re obscuring your vision they can be treated with vitreolysis or a vitrectomy, though both are done rarely. The first method is a laser treatment where the focused light breaks up the floaters to make them less visible. The second option is a surgery that uses a small incision to remove the vitreous and replace it with a saline solution.
Floaters can be annoying but they are usually harmless, but if they become a problem we’re here to help. So for floaters and other conditions that affect the retina, make an appointment with Dr. Rapkin and his team at Retina Consultants of Muncie today.