Floaters defined: Are you seeing things?

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Dr. E. Shanika Esparaz

By Mary Malik

Have you ever swatted away a fly that wasn’t there, or dusted a cobweb that didn’t exist? If the answer is yes, then you’ve experienced floaters in your vision, which can be bothersome and even scary. E. Shanika Esparaz, M.D., double board-certified ophthalmologist and owner of Envision Opthalmology and Wellness, says that anyone can get them although it’s common for some more than others.

“Floaters are common as we age, but they’re also common in people who are very nearsighted, had a retinal tear, a detachment, eye surgery or experienced trauma to the eye,” Dr. Esparaz says. “If you experience a sudden shower of floaters for the first time, it’s a good idea to call your eye care provider. In some cases, it may be something that requires laser or surgical care.”

Usually harmless, floaters are actually small bits of protein or matter found in the vitreous, or jelly-like substance, in the back of the eye, Dr. Esparaz explains.

“As we age, the vitreous thins out, gets stretchy and pieces can break off of the retina and literally float around, interfering with your vision,” Dr. Esparaz says.

Symptoms like seeing flashes of light or experiencing a “curtain” coming down and cutting off your field of vision can be very serious and signs of a retinal tear or detachment. These symptoms require a dilated eye exam and should be immediately assessed by an eye care professional.

Dr. Esparaz recommends a dilated eye exam for anyone over age 40 for overall eye health and for anyone experiencing sudden floaters, flashes of light or a “curtain” blocking their vision to rule out a more serious condition.

Envision Ophthalmology and Wellness is located at 6551 Wilson Mills Road, Suite 103, next door to Austin’s Steakhouse. For more information call 440-291-3051, email Dr. Esparaz at info@envisioncleveland.net or check the website EnvisionCle.com.