May is Healthy Vision Month. The CDC’s Vision Health Initiative and the National Eye Institute encourage all Americans to make their vision health a priority.
If you haven’t had a vision exam in the past year, be sure to schedule a visit with an optometrist or eye specialist as soon as possible.
Schedule a visit with an optometrist once a year for a dilated eye exam.
- Some eye problems may be hereditary. Let your optometrist know if any member of your family has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition.
- Eat healthily and maintain a healthy weight. Foods such as dark leafy greens and fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids contribute to good eye health.
- Wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from ultraviolet light.
- Always wash your hands before removing your contacts. Thoroughly clean your contacts to prevent an infection.
- Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing home improvement projects.
What are eye floaters?
Eye floaters are small, partially transparent, or cloudy particles that may affect your vision. They 'float' in the clear fluid (vitreous humor) located inside your eye and may cast small shadows on your retina.
These tiny fibers may be in various shapes and sizes including specks, threadlike strings, or cobwebs. They drift about when you move your eyes.
You'll often notice floaters when you look at a flat, brightly lit surface such as a computer monitor, the sky, or a white sheet of copy paper.
Are eye floaters normal?
Eye floaters sometimes appear as a natural part of aging. If you are over 50, you may notice floaters or spots in your vision. They may also be a result of a disease or other health condition:
- Eye inflammation in the back of the eye (Posterior uveitis)
- Bleeding inside the eye - this may be caused by diabetes, blocked blood vessels, hypertension, or eye trauma
- Torn retina (a retinal tear can lead to retinal detachment) - a retinal detachment can cause vision loss
- Eye surgery - some types of eye surgeries may add silicone bubbles to the clear fluid inside the eye; these may be noticed as floaters until they are absorbed
How many eye floaters are too many?
The presence of any eye floaters may indicate a disease and warrant an eye exam. Contact your eye specialist immediately if you see:
- The sudden appearance or a 'shower' of many floaters in an eye
- More than just the occasional eye floater
- Flashes of light in the eye or in eyes that have floaters
- A loss of peripheral (side) vision. When this happens, you may notice darkness on one or more sides of your vision.
These symptoms may be caused by a retinal tear or a retinal detachment — a serious condition that requires immediate care from an eye specialist.
How can I prevent eye floaters?
While floaters can't be prevented, you can make sure they aren't a symptom of a serious eye problem.
If you've noticed eye floaters see an ophthalmologist or optometrist. They will check your vision to ensure there's no sign of a serious eye condition.
There's no better time than Healthy Vision Month in May to schedule an appointment with an eye specialist.