Home Life & People Do You Hate Those Specks That Seem To Float In Your Eye? Well, Don’t Rub Them! This Is What They Actually Are:

Do You Hate Those Specks That Seem To Float In Your Eye? Well, Don’t Rub Them! This Is What They Actually Are:

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Have you ever noticed something swimming in your line of vision? It may look like a tiny worm or a transparent blob. But whenever you try to get a closer look, it disappears only to reappear as soon as you shift your glance. But don’t go rising out your eyes, what you are seeing is a common phenomenon known as a floater. The scientific name for the objects is Muscae Volitantes, Latin for flying flies. And true to their name, they can be somewhat annoying. But they are not actually bugs or any type of external objects at all. Rather, they exist inside your eyeball. Floaters may seem to be alive since they move and change shape, but they are not alive. Floaters are tiny objects that cast shadows on the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. They might be bits of tissue, red blood cells, or clumps of protein. And because they are suspended in the vitreous humor, the gel-like liquid that fills the inside of your eye, floaters drift along with your eye movement and seem to bounce a little when your eye stops. Floaters may be barely distinguishable most of the time, they become more visible the closer they are to the retina, just as holding your hand closer to a table with an overhead light will result in a more defined shadow.

Floaters are particularly noticeable when you are looking at a uniform bright surface like a computer screen, snow or a clear sky where the consistency of the background makes them easy the distinguish. The brighter the light is, the more your pupil contracts. This has a similar effect to placing a large diffused light fixture with a single overhead light bulb which also makes the shadow appear clearer.

There is another visual phenomenon that is similar to floaters, but is in fact unrelated. If you’ve seen tiny dots of light darting about when looking at a bright blue sky, you have experienced what is called Blue Field Entoptic Phenomenon. In some ways, this is the opposite of seeing floaters. Here, you are not seeing shadows, but little moving windows letting light through to your retina. The windows are actually caused by white blood cells moving through the capillaries along your retina’s surface. These leukocytes are so large that they nearly fill a capillary, causing a plasma space to open up in front of them. Because this space and the red blood cells are both more transparent to blue light than the red blood cells normally present in capillaries, we see a moving dot of light wherever this happens, following the path of your capillaries and moving in time with your pulse. Under ideal viewing conditions, you might even see what looks like a dark tail following the dot, these are the red blood cells that have bunched up behind the leukocyte. Some science museums have an exhibit which consists of a screen of blue light, allowing you to see these blue sky sprites much more clearly than you normally would. While everyone’s eyes experience these sort of effects, the number and time vary greatly. In the case of floaters, they often go unnoticed as our brain learns to ignore them. However, abnormally large floaters that interfere with vision may be a sign of a more serious condition needing immediate medical attention. But, the majority of the time entoptic phenomena such as floaters and sky sprites are just a gentle reminder that what we think we see depends just as much on our biology and minds as it does

Some science museums have an exhibit which consists of a screen of blue light, allowing you to see these blue sky sprites much more clearly than you normally would. While everyone’s eyes experience these sort of effects, the number and time vary greatly. In the case of floaters, they often go unnoticed as our brain learns to ignore them. However, abnormally large floaters that interfere with vision may be a sign of a more serious condition needing immediate medical attention. But, the majority of the time entoptic phenomena such as floaters and sky sprites are just a gentle reminder that what we think we see depends just as much on our biology and minds as it does on the external world.

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Brother or sister,

1. Our bodies are God’s temple.

2. Our bodies can do amazing things!

3. We need to take care of our bodies, so we can be strong to care for those around us.

Did you find this story about floaters interesting? Share it with your friends to teach them something new!

God bless you and your family,
Aaron Tabor, MD

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