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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11177
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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Yesterday I suddenly started seeing dark, wispy floaters in

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Yesterday I suddenly started seeing dark, wispy floaters in my left eye. I would like to see an opthalmologist, but it is Sunday. Should I be concerned?

Dr. Rick :

Hi. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.

Customer:

I was out hiking when the problem started....

Dr. Rick :

Good morning

Dr. Rick :

You are likely experiencing a PVD or posterior vitreous detachment, a common event that happens in many people.

You have a thick gel material in the middle of your eyes called the vitreous. Over time as it liquefies, this gel material collapses on itself, forms little clumps that you can see as dots, lines or bugs. As these clumps form the vitreous pulls away from the wall of the eye. In the process it can stimulate the retina -- causing the flashes that you may see.

It is recommended that you see your ophthalmologist to look at the retina to make sure there are no problems such as a retinal hole or tear. In most cases, there are no problems, but this exam is precautionary and allows for preventative treatment of any lesions that are found.

If you notice a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light (like a lightning storm), or a shadow/veil in the periphery of your vision, this can be worrisome for a retinal detachment. You would need to contact your ophthalmologist promptly in that case.


 


What can you do about the floaters? Well, floaters don't go away, and they don't really get worse. Over time they tend to "sink" out of your central vision and you brain "filters" them out so you don't notice them so much anymore. They almost never cause significant visual problems except, of course, if they cause a secondary retinal detachment as discussed above. The only way to decrease or remove the floaters is with a major surgery called a vitrectomy. As a retinal specialist for almost 2 decades I've only done this procedure to remove floaters in a handful of cases.


 

Dr. Rick :

does this make sense to you?

Dr. Rick :

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Customer:

yes, and it coincides with the information i have been reading so far.

Customer:

do i need to be careful about physical activity or anything like that?

Dr. Rick :

Isn't the internet a wonderful place? No more trips to the library :)

Dr. Rick :

No. You can continue your normal activities......unless,of course, you are an Olympic Weight Lifter in Training, in which case you should take a few days off.

Customer:

well i guess this is somewhat reassuring, pending an eye exam.,,

Dr. Rick :

I've had a PVD in my left eye for over 20 years.....and I almost never notice it anymore. You will be OK, just get in to see an ophthalmologist in the near future to make sure your retina is OK

Customer:

no shadow/veils or lightning flashes so far

Dr. Rick :

In over 95% of cases everything is fine.....

Customer:

great....thanks

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