This happens to many people: one day they realize that they perceive with their eyes small dots or spots that seem to be floating around them, as if they were flies.
When they look there, they don’t see anything. And this is that those points or spots that are suspended in the visual field do not correspond to real external objects, but are inside the eyes themselves. They are called floaters, floaters, vitreous opacities, or – in medical terms – floaters.
It is considered a benign pathology because it is generally not a serious problem, it has no other consequences, and most patients eventually get used to it and live without much difficulty. This happens thanks to visual neuroadaptation, the brain’s ability to subconsciously “forget” small imperfections in image perception.
Aging is the main cause of floaters. This is a phenomenon that usually appears after the age of 60, although the problem can begin several decades earlier.
Another risk factor is myopia, and it may also be that the trauma leads to myodesopia (a word of Greek etymology meaning “seeing the shape of flies”).
There are a number of factors that are often blamed for floaters, such as stress, smoking, computer and phone screens, lack of good hydration, too much squinting, and even eye drops. But they are unverified myths, as explained by the Spanish Association Against Myodosopia. On the other hand, only a small number of floating bodies are a symptom of a more significant problem.
Floaters are condensation in the vitreous, the clear gelatinous fluid that fills the eyeball. This humor consists mainly of water.
Over the years, the body experiences natural dehydration, which in the case of the eyes produces collagen fiber aggregates that cast a shadow on the retina. This is explained in an article by the Spanish Myopia Association.
In short, dots or spots actually exist, but not outside, but inside the eye. “Flies” become visible especially when looking at a uniform and well-lit surface, such as the daytime sky on a clear day, a computer screen, a blank page of a notebook or book, etc.
Another characteristic is that the movement of these points or spots (or even threads that sometimes seem to form veins) does not correspond exactly to the movements of the eyeball, but to a general drift.
As mentioned, most people learn to ignore these motivations without becoming a major problem.
However, “flies” can be a sign of a bigger problem when large numbers of them suddenly appear or increase in size, and especially if these changes are accompanied by internal bleeding (vitreous hemorrhage) or flashes of light (photopsias). ). In this case, you should consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible, because retinal detachment may occur.
If vitreous detachment—the technical name for the process that causes the floating layers to appear normal—isn’t much of a concern, retinal detachment should be, as it can have significant consequences for the affected eye, including loss of vision.
There are other cases where more attention should be paid to vitreous transparency. These are situations in which, although the physiological problem is not very serious, the disturbance that these visions create for the patient on a psychological level is. For some people, the discomfort can become unbearable.
An extreme case was that of Germanwings Flight 9525 pilot Andreas Lubitz, who shot down the plane he was piloting in the French Alps in March 2015 and killed himself. As a result, the other 149 people on the plane also died. Years earlier, Lubitz had been suffering from depression and receiving psychological treatment for suicidal tendencies, and in the months before the plane crash – according to The New York Times – he had seen 46 ophthalmologists, optometrists, neurologists and other professionals in search of a solution. For floaters who didn’t sleep at 27.
Without reaching this level of imbalance, many people feel that floating bodies have a very noticeable effect on their lives. About six months after vitreous detachment (ie, the appearance of flies), there are three classes of patients, as explained by ophthalmologist Laura Brock in an article published by the Spanish Retina and Vitreous Society:
Currently, there is no effective and safe treatment against floaters. For this reason, and because of their already mentioned benign nature, professionals generally recommend making an effort to adapt to them.
In severe cases, there is an alternative: an operation called a vitrectomy. It consists of removing the vitreous humor of the eyeball – and with it the condensation of collagen fibers – and replacing it with a clear saline solution. In general, this is a short intervention (takes about ten minutes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology) and is very effective because the “flies” disappear.
But vitrectomy is not without risks, from infections and bleeding to cataracts, retinal detachment, and glaucoma due to possible increases in pressure inside the eye. For this reason, specialists and specialized studies recommend limiting this type of intervention to a small number of patients, especially those with persistent and debilitating symptoms. Of course, the professional faced with this possibility must provide all information related to the risks so that the patient can make a decision.
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Source: El Diario