By Lee Hui Xin Leanne, IECRC

Moving black spots, irregularly shaped lines, “clouds” or “flies” seen in one’s field of vision are called floaters. They are caused by tiny clumps of gel or cells in the vitreous gel, the normally clear jelly that fills the cavity of the eye. These clumps or cells cast shadows on the retina, the light sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye, and are perceived as floaters.

Floaters are more common in individuals who are short-sighted or older than 40. They can be bothersome or impair vision if the floaters are seen in the centre of one’s vision. Fortunately, this condition is usually harmless and often requires no intervention. However, if there is a sudden increase in floaters or if new floaters are noticed, one should seek medical attention immediately as they can be associated with retinal tear or retinal detachment which can cause blindness if left untreated.

Unlike floaters, flashes are seen as transient flashing lights in the eye. Flashes can result from tugging on the retina by adherent vitreous gel which mechanically stimulates the photoreceptors in the retina. Like floaters, they require medical intervention to rule out possible sight-threatening conditions such as retinal tear or retinal detachment.

These and other conditions were covered by two senior eye specialists at a free public forum on “Common Eye Conditions” at Farrer Park Hospital on 20 May 2017. The two senior eye specialists, Dr Ajeet Madhav Wagle and Dr Joy Chan, are from International Eye Cataract Retina Centre in Farrer Park Medical Centre and Singapore International Eye Cataract Retina Centre in Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.

Other eye conditions the doctors shared with participants included age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, droopy eyelids, dry eye, blepharitis, eyelid disorders, glaucoma, tearing problems and pterygium.

The key message the doctors gave to participants was to know their risks and to go for eye examinations on a regular basis to detect sight-threatening conditions at an early stage.

Participants interested to attend the next free public forum can register here.