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The appearance of black spots across the vision is something that is commonly seen in a lot of people. These black spots are referred to as "floaters" and can in fact take a number of other shapes like rings, strands, lines or even cobwebs. In most cases these floaters are benign and do not require any further attention, however if these floaters are accompanied by certain other symptoms then immediate medical attention needs to be sought.

Cause

The structures of our eye are surrounded by a thick gel-like substance that is called as the vitreous. This is attached to the retina via millions of microscopic fibers. One of the changes that occur during physiologic aging is the retraction of this vitreous gel. The consistency of the vitreous gel is much more stable during the early decades of life. As we age, the center portion starts to undergo liquefaction and is thus unable to support the weight of the peripheral part of the gel. This in turn leads to the collapse of the peripheral gel into the center.

During this process some amount of the collagen fibers can get dislodged and float about in the vitreous.

Symptoms

- These floaters tend to be difficult to focus on, always moving about.

- They appear and disappear at random.

- These floaters commonly become more prominent while staring at a bright clear sky or a blank computer screen.

- Patients often learn to ignore them as they do not obstruct the vision.

The thing about these floaters is that they are an annoyance more than causing any actual harm. They will not cause any damage and are rarely large enough to obstruct the vision of the affected person, and even start becoming less noticeable as time passes. This is why most doctors will do an examination to make sure nothing serious is wrong and then advise you to do nothing. However, this does not mean that you ignore these signs.

It is imperative that you get yourself to your eye doctor as soon as possible to rule out any complications.

Here are some warning signs that you need to be aware of:

- Flashes of light

- Loss of vision on the peripheries

- Bleeding

These symptoms are usually a sign of retinal detachment or tears. If not treated immediately, this could lead to permanent blindness. The journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 2009 that stated that one in seven patients complaining of floaters and light flashes will have an underlying retinal tear or detachment. It also said that 50 percent of those with a tear will develop detachment later in life. Statistics also show that almost half the people around the age of 80 will have vitreous detachment.

In a condition that has the potential to be so serious if missed early, it is better not to take any chances and get yourself checked at the earliest opportunity.

Even if it turns out to be nothing, it is worth the time and money you will spend for the peace of mind you will achieve.

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