Have new floaters? What should you do?
All new floaters must be examined. The biggest medical concern is that the floaters are caused by a retinal tear. Retinal tears can lead to retinal detachments.
While there are other causes of floaters, I worry most that you might be at risk for developing a retinal detachment by having an undiagnosed retinal tear.
Dilated Eye Examination
Your eye doctor should dilate your pupils and examine your retina looking for the cause of the new floaters. Sometimes, it is not possible to actually see the new floater, but a good dilated exam will rule out the possibility of the floater being caused by a retinal tear.
You can NOT tell by yourself the exact cause of the floaters.
Retinal tears can cause bleeding or liberate pigment from underneath the retina – both common causes of “floaters” in this scenario.
Blood in the vitreous or pigment cells are obvious warning signs for your doctor to look hard for a tear in the retina.
Retinal Tears Need Treatment
Referral to a retina specialist should occur if a retinal tear or retinal detachment is found, but also if your doctor simply wants to ensure there is no retinal tear by getting a second opinion.
Retinal tears should be treated with either laser treatment or cryotherapy (freezing) to prevent a retinal detachment from occurring. Retinal detachments usually require surgery for repair.
Most often, floaters are caused by a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a normal event and will eventually occur in everyone.
A posterior vitreous detachment can cause a retinal tear. If no retinal tear is diagnosed, but your doctor has noted a new posterior vitreous detachment, you should be re-evaluated as retinal tears can occur during the first 6 weeks of sustaining a PVD.
A PVD may cause floaters lasting weeks or months. Often the vitreous shifts with time causing the floaters to be less bothersome.