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Black Spots in Vision

Black Spots in Vision

Almost all of us experience black spots in vision, i.e., tiny spots floating in the air; especially when we look at the sky. Not many of us are aware of their causes, though. In the following write-up, we will shed some light on this condition -- while emphasizing on it causes and treatment.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Apr 13, 2018
Eye floaters, often known as black spots or dark spots in vision, are the tiny particles which seem to move in front of our eyes at times. These spots can be of any shape and size, but are most often seen in form of small dots floating in our field of vision (... and hence the name 'floaters'). You are more likely to see these spots if you try to look at the sky, or at a white wall for that matter. In the field of medicine, the perception of floaters is called 'myodesopsia'.

The occurrence of these black spots is usually attributed to the process of aging and thus, is considered perfectly normal. At times, however, one may see a sudden rise in such occurrences, and that can be a symptom of some underlying medical condition. In such cases, it's wise to consult an ophthalmologist at the earliest; especially if the condition is interfering with your vision.
Why do We See these Black Spots?
Our eyeballs contain a transparent gel-like substance known as the vitreous humor, which is found between the lens and retina. It is made of tiny fibers and water, and is attached to the retina. (It is this substance which keeps the retina in place by pressing it against the vascular layer of the eye, the choroid.) Any disturbance, or damage caused to the vitreous causes the tiny fibers within it to clump together. The resultant debris cast their shadow on the retina and this, in turn, gives rise to black spots in our field of vision. As the source of this visual effect lies within the eye, it is considered an 'entoptic phenomenon'.
Eye floaters
The vitreous can be damaged as a result of some underlying infection, or in course of surgery, but usually it is the aging-related wear and tear of the same, which causes the floaters to appear. As this substance is present in the vitreous body right from our birth and there is no regular formation, or drainage process, it isn't surprising that it tends to degenerate and liquefy with time. That explains why aging is one of the most common causes of floaters in the eyes. As the vitreous starts to deteriorate and liquefy, it leads to formation of clumps of fiber in the fluid. When these clumps start to float in the vitreous, they appear as if black spots are floating in front of you.

Yet another cause of this condition is posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). As we grow old, the vitreous tends to liquefy and contract, and eventually separates from the retina. Some individuals experience dark spots in vision in course of this separation process. There are high chances of vitreous detachment in course of surgical procedures, like the YAG laser eye surgery for cataract, and that can lead to eye floaters at times.
Various eye infections are also known to trigger black spots in vision. When the debris of bacteria and lymphocytes get caught in the vitreous, they tend to disturb the vitreous and trigger the occurrence of eye floaters. A person may experience floaters when red blood cells leakage, or white blood cells accumulation in the vitreous. This is usually seen in retinal detachment patients.
When to See a Doctor?
These spots only last for a few seconds or so, and are usually known to disappear the moment you try to focus on them. At times, however, they are accompanied by vision problems, or reduction of vision. You may also experience large number of floaters at the same time, which may obstruct your vision and make it difficult for you to concentrate. You should consult an ophthalmologist, if ...

» these floaters don't disappear easily.
» they are accompanied by flashes.
» they are recurring to an extent that it interferes with your daily life.

If a woman experiences black spots in vision during pregnancy, she should immediately report this to the doctor.
The Treatment Process
The ophthalmologist will use an ophthalmoscope, or slit lamp for the diagnosis of this condition. Generally, these spots are harmless and don't really require much attention. Having said that, there are high chances that these floaters might be the symptom of some underlying condition -- some damage caused to the vitreous, in most likelihood. In that case, you will have to resort to the treatment of underlying condition to do away with them.

It is important to identify the causes of eye floaters to treat them successfully. If the same are caused by infection, treating it will help you get rid of them. If degenerated vitreous is the underlying condition, the ophthalmologist may recommend vitrectomy for the treatment of floaters. Vitrectomy is the surgical process of removing the vitreous humor and replacing it with saline water. Though helpful, this procedure has some complications of its own.
One shouldn't take unnecessary risks, especially when the problem is related to the eyes. As a precautionary measure, one has to continuously monitor his eyesight. Eye problems, as simple as they may seem, should be promptly referred to the doctor. You might come across many sources which say black spots in vision are harmless, but then it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Disclaimer: This article is purely for the purpose of providing information, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Doing a routine checkup
Optometrist with patient giving an eye examination