My Eye Floaters

by Michelle Cerino

Well, it finally happened, I reached the big five-oh. And with it came a few changes that I first noticed this past summer. While on the range or shooting clays, I began seeing spots in the sky, almost like transparent threads or cobwebs. One time, I actually tried removing this mystery thread from the front site of my pistol. Since I didn’t have my readers on, I couldn’t tell if I had been successful. I asked my husband to try, and when he said there was nothing on it, I panicked. I know I saw something. After mentioning what I saw to my mom, she lackadaisically said, “Oh, you have eye floaters. I’ve had them, too. There’s nothing you can do about them.”

What Eye Floaters Look Like

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me describe what I see. Floaters look like cobwebs, spots or small specks. They move around and are rarely in the same spot. If I try to look directly at them, they seem to dart away. As of right now, it’s very distracting, especially when I’m looking at my computer or the bright sky. One time, I tried killing a fruit fly in front of my computer – only to find out it was just a floater.

I’ll admit, I didn’t go to the optometrist right away. Instead, I waited to see if the floaters went away on their own, or became less distracting. (Not the best idea.) Since they were still there at the end of the shooting season, I decided to make an eye-doctor appointment. Better safe than sorry.

Optometrist Visit

My exam at the optometrist was nothing out of the ordinary. She mentioned I should increase my reading glasses magnification and my distance was still perfect. When I questioned the floaters, she said I had nothing to worry about. It’s an age-related issue. The floaters are just tiny pieces of vitreous. She said eventually my brain will stop noticing them.

What is Vitreous

Part of the eye between the lens and the retina, contain a jelly-like substance called vitreous. As one ages, the vitreous begins to dissolve and become more liquid-like. Some undissolved gel particles may float around in the more liquid center of the vitreous, appearing as floaters.

According to my online research, eye floaters are particularly pronounced when gazing at a clear or overcast sky, which is exactly when I first noticed mine. Another time is while looking at computer screen with a white or light-colored background. Like when I thought I was seeing a fruit-fly.

Strangely, it’s not really tiny bits of debris I’m seeing. It’s actually the shadows cast from the floaters onto my retina as light passes through my eyes. They appear to be drifting because as my eye moves the vitreous gel inside my eye also does. I’ve tried to stare at them and figure out their shapes, but it’s really difficult.

When To Be Concerned

It’s highly recommend to contact an eye care professional when you first notice floaters. Then, return right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden increase in eye floaters
  • Flashes of light
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Darkness on any side

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Although painless, these symptoms could mean that the vitreous is pulling away from your retina — a condition called posterior vitreous detachment. It could also be signs of a retinal tear, which could lead to retinal detachment, which is a sight-threatening condition that requires immediate attention.

If you find yourself seeing eye floaters, I recommend visiting your eye specialist right away. Don’t wait like I did, it could be a serious problem. I was lucky.

Shooting and Eye Floaters

Supposedly it can take about 3 to 4 months for the brain to get used to seeing the floaters. When I’m on the range, before I start shooting I remind myself to ignore any floaters as they come into view. I focus on my sights and don’t allow them to break my concentration. It takes practice, but I’m getting better. Hopefully my brain begins adjusting to them soon.

Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, is the managing and social media editor at The WON. Michelle is the president of Cerino Consulting and Training Group, LLC, a firearms training company she built with her husband Chris in 2011. Her path in the firearms and outdoors industries is ever progressing. She is writing, hunting, competing and doing contract work for major manufacturers.