I started seeing small black spots in my right eye a couple of days ago. What causes this, and do I need to see an eye doctor?
A. As we age, the thick, jelly-like substance that fills the center of the eye (called the vitreous) can form blobs that resemble spots, cobwebs, or strings. Some of this debris may wind up floating around inside the eye and block some of the incoming light. Most of the time, these "floaters" are small and don't affect your vision. They become less noticeable over time and may even disappear.
Still, you should have them checked out by an eye specialist. Floaters may indicate that the vitreous, which usually hugs the retina in the back of the eye, has freed itself from the retina. Doctors call this a posterior vitreous detachment, and it can lead to a detached or torn retina, which requires prompt treatment. You're at risk for these retinal complications if you are over 60, are nearsighted, have a family history of retinal detachment, or have had eye surgery. If floaters remain extremely annoying or impair your vision, the most effective treatment is the surgical removal of the vitreous.
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