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Dr. Dan B.
Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3164
Experience:  Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
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I am a 64 year old female with hypothyroidism. Yesterday I

Customer Question

I am a 64 year old female with hypothyroidism. Yesterday I started to see a small speck in my left eye that basically came and went within about ten minutes. Today I didn't have any problems until a little while ago when I noticed black floating shapes that resembled smoke, or oil in water. I am not in any pain, I am not irritated, it does not feel as if anything is in the eye itself. I have gently washed the eye, and have just applied Similisan natural eye drops. It appears to have lessened, but is still present. It now feels as if it is towards the bottom of my eye instead of throughout the entire eye. My sight is not blurry, but of course I am worried about the cause, and if this is something I need to persue right away. I have an appointment with the opthomologist for Friday afternoon, but am worried that this may be an urgent situation. In addition, I have just begun the hobby of reading novels within the last two days, which I had not done for several years. I also have two kittens that I sometimes have an allergic reaction to. Is it possible that this may be related to eye strain? Thank you in advance for your expertise.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Dan B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello and thanks for your question.

 

Your symptoms sound consistent with what are called vitreous floaters. These floating specks, spots, or shapes (people describe them as various shapes), are tiny pieces of the vitreous jelly that occupies a large amount of the volume of the back of the eye. This vitreous jelly, when we're born, is the consistency of a jello jiggler (thick jello). As we age it liquifies and becomes more fibrous bands and water. Because of this liquification and the resultant fibrous bands that are left, there becomes more points of traction that the jelly exerts on the back of the eye where it is attached. As we move our eyes in different directions and as our pupils change shape, or even as we rub our eyes, some of these bands can become unattached from the back of the eye and a piece of it floats around, attached still to the rest of the jelly.

 

These vitreous floaters do tend to happen more the older we get, but can happen at a young age. Sometimes they can happen with pressure transmitted to the eyes, and can even cause a ruptured blood vessel, causing blood to accumulate in the vitreous cavity.

 

Unfortunately, there is nothing that really can be done to definitively rid yourself of these floaters besides major surgery. Therefore, surgery to remove these floating spots is usually reserved for when they floaters are large or are significantly disrupting your vision and causing problems in your life. Thankfully, these floaters usually tend to get "better" in that either: 1) the brain learns how to ignore them, or 2) they break up somewhat, or 3) they drift out of your view.

 

One of the most important things to understand about floaters is that the process of a new floater happening can rarely lead to a retinal detachment, so it is important to know the 4 signs of a possible retinal detachment. These are: 1. sudden increase in or new floaters, 2. flashing or arcing lights that are persistent and not going away, 3. a shade/shadow/spot in your vision that you can't see light through, or 4. a large drop in your vision which doesn't improve after a few minutes. For any of these symptoms you must see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

 

I would say you are probably okay to wait until Friday as long as the vision is not affected, but if any of the above 4 signs start then you should see that doctor right away.

 

Does that make sense and does it help answer your question?

 

I am happy to be able to help you today. If you would be so kind, please help me get credit for my efforts in answering your questions by pressing the ACCEPT button for this encounter; this allows the funds that the JustAnswer website has collected from you in the form of a deposit to be released and allotted to me in return for helping you with your question.

 

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My opinion is solely informative and does not constitute a formal medical opinion or recommendation. For a formal medical opinion and/or recommendation you must be examined by your doctor.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you doctor for your prompt attention and expertise. I do have a few more questions if it would be alright to ask you.

1. How long do these typically last for them to go away comepletely or will this be something I will probably need to get used to?

2. Is there anything I can do to help alleivate these floaters such as over the counter drops, warm compresses, etc.

3. Can this possibly be related to eye strain or allergies?

Thank you again doctor.

Expert:  Dr. Dan B. replied 3 years ago.

Those are excellent questions.

 

1. Most often these spots tend to dissipate or break-up, but usually they will not completely disappear permanently. Most people are left with a few dots or spots that they will become accustomed to seeing on a regular basis when you are looking at a bright background such as the sky, a computer screen, or at white paper. But the good thing is, for the most part, the brain will start to ignore these and they usually don't cause any functional difficulties.

 

2. Unfortunately, there is no remedy that will improve these whatsoever except for major surgery, which most people don't get unless the spots start to affect their day to day functioning.

 

3. These are almost never related to eye strain or allergies. Most of the time, it is just related to the aging of the eye as the rest of the body ages. Trauma to the eye can induce them, and they tend to be more common in myopic or nearsighted individuals, but other than that, are fairly common and tend to just "happen" to people without any rhyme or reason.

 

Does that make sense? Any more questions I can help you with?

Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3164
Experience: Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
Dr. Dan B. and other Eye Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
It makes perfect sense, thank you so much doctor. I appreciate your time and thoroughness!
Expert:  Dr. Dan B. replied 3 years ago.
Welcome. Thank you for the bonus and for visiting JustAnswer. Good luck and take care!

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