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Why is a Dilated Eye Exam Necessary

Why a Dilated Eye Exam is Necessary
Jennifer Chin, OD

Who gets floaters?

Seeing floaters is very common and at some point in time you may have experienced them yourself or have heard someone mention seeing these floating spots in their vision.

What do floaters look like?

Typically, clear floaters are most noticeable when looking at computer screens or when looking at a bright blue background such as the sky. They appear as translucent spots or strands that float around when you move your eyes to look at them. They are sometimes described as dark spots that appear as if “a fly” or “a mouse ran across the room”.

What are floaters?

There is a jelly like substance in the back of the eye, called the vitreous. As we age, the consistency of the vitreous changes and as light passes through the vitreous, the areas of condensed vitreous cast shadows on the retina which we see as floating spots.

Occasionally, as the vitreous condenses, it can tug on the retina producing holes or tears in the retina presenting a risk for retinal detachment. These dark black floaters may be spots of blood liberated from blood vessels during the creation of the hole or tear in the retina. When this occurs, dark black floaters accompanied by the appearance of a flashing lights may be noticed.

Systemic conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes may also cause the appearance of dark floaters.

It is crucial to see your eye care doctor as soon as possible if you start seeing new floaters or if you have an increase number in floaters, especially when accompanied by flashing lights. This may warrant further intervention in order to prevent vision loss.

When should I be checked for floaters?

As there are several different causes of floaters, it is important to see your eye doctor to determine the cause of the floaters. The vitreous and floaters are evaluated during annual comprehensive eye exams. At this exam, the doctor may decide to dilate the pupils with eye drops to investigate the cause of the floaters.

Make an appointment today.

Jennifer Chin, OD

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