Myodesopsias or floaters, a common visual problem

Myodesopsias, known as “floaters” or “floating bodies”, are actually a very common visual symptom. They consist of the appearance in the visual field of small dots, spots, threads or cobwebs of various shapes and sizes, usually black or grayish in color, which move with eye movements. They are more easily seen when we look at white surfaces or clear areas that facilitate contrast (for example, when looking at the sky during the day).

Aging of the vitreous, cause of myodesopsias

The most frequent cause of myodesopsias is the aging of the vitreous humor, the gel that fills the back of the eyeball, behind the lens. They also occur in myopic people or people with other ocular pathologies, regardless of their age.

In a young person, the vitreous is a homogeneous gel adhered to the retina; however, as the years go by, it ages and its adherence to the retina breaks down, causing vitreous detachment. It is then when lacunae of liquefied vitreous, collagen aggregates and condensation or vitreous lumps are formed, which cause myodesopsias or floaters in most patients.

Aging of the vitreous usually ends with a posterior detachment, then myodesopsias in the form of floaters or cobwebs become more evident and luminous flashes or photopsias may appear, as a consequence of the traction exerted by the vitreous on the peripheral retina. In these cases it is essential to see an ophthalmologist, since a certain percentage of patients may develop a retinal tear, which could lead to retinal detachment.

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What to do if you have myodesopsias or floaters

Although they can be very annoying, myodesopsias do not have serious consequences and are not usually treated, but there are cases in which, due to their size and number, they make vision difficult and affect the quality of life. In these cases, the possibility of vitreolysis with YAG laser can be considered, whose objective is to fragment these floating bodies so that they have less influence on vision. Another more radical option is vitrectomy, surgery that consists of replacing the vitreous, thus eliminating the myodesopsia. However, these procedures involve risks, so they are only performed in exceptional situations.