Seeing Spots In Your Vision

9 sources cited
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Why am I Seeing Spots?

Seeing spots refers to specks, cobweb-like images, and threads that drift across your line of vision.5 Most of the time, seeing spots is not a cause for concern. Spots in your field of vision may be floaters, a common and normal part of aging.

Sometimes, seeing spots can be a warning sign of a serious underlying condition that requires medical attention. Sudden black spots in your vision or white spots that appear as light flashes may not be floaters.

When is Seeing Spots a Sign of Something Serious?

Seeing spots is not always a cause for concern. You may require treatment if you are experiencing symptoms, especially if they impact your vision. Your eye doctor will provide medical advice on whether or not your case is serious. 

For example, you need treatment if you have a detached retina or a retinal tear that is getting worse.7 If left untreated, retina problems can lead to severe vision loss.

What are Eye Floaters?

A floater is a small cluster of cells or a fleck of protein that becomes condensed in your vitreous humor. The vitreous is a clear gel-like substance that fills the back two-thirds of your eyeball.

You may notice a large floater or several small ones. They may be floating in front of you, or you may see them in your peripheral vision. 

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When you see spots, you are not seeing the floater itself. Rather, you are seeing the shadow that the floater casts onto the retina.5 That’s why floaters move as your eyes move and appear to float away when you look directly at them.

When Should I Worry About Eye Floaters?

Most floaters and occasional flashes are not cause for concern. They may happen from time to time in both eyes or in the same eye.

You should call your doctor right away if:

  • You notice a sudden increase in or appearance of floaters or flashes
  • You experience spots, floaters, or flashes with other vision problems
  • You begin seeing spots after an eye or head injury

5 Possible Causes of Seeing Spots

Here are a few possible causes of seeing spots, including:

  • Black or dark spots
  • White spots
  • Flashes of light
  • Blind spots
  • An increase in eye floaters

 An eye specialist can help you identify the root cause of your condition.

1. Eye Injury

If you injure your eyes and damage your retina, you may begin to see flashes of light occur. Other symptoms will likely accompany these flashes of light. You should seek immediate attention if you have had eye trauma. You may need eye surgery.

2. Eye Disease

Certain eye diseases can cause you to see spots that may look like floaters.6 These diseases include:9

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Macular hole
  • Macular pucker
  • Juvenile macular dystrophy
  • Central serous chorioretinopathy

3. Diabetes

Diabetes is another possible cause of seeing spots.5  Bleeding into the vitreous can also cause you to see spots, and that may be a symptom of diabetes.1

4. Old Age

Your eye health deteriorates with old age, and your vision becomes weaker. Many floaters are simply age-related.5 The older you get, the higher risk you face of seeing spots and flashes of light.

5. Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can occur when your vitreous shrinks and tugs on the retina, pulling away from it. This is called a posterior vitreous detachment, and it can cause the retina to tear. 

Fluid from inside your eye can seep into the tear and separate your retina from the tissues, causing retinal detachment.

Unfortunately, this can lead to permanent vision loss.

Other Risk Factors for Seeing Spots

Certain factors can increase your risk of seeing spots. They include the following:3

  • Being over the age of 50
  • Having nearsighted vision
  • Coping with eye trauma
  • Having complications from cataract surgery
  • Being diabetic (or having a family history of diabetes)
  • Having eye inflammation or inflammatory diseases
  • Experiencing visual disturbances during or before a migraine 

If you are at risk of seeing spots and start seeing them or experiencing other symptoms related to poor vision, you should consult a doctor for treatment.

How Eye Floaters are Diagnosed 

Your doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam on you, including a dilated eye exam, to get a better idea of why you are seeing spots and flashes of light.

How to Treat Eye Floaters

Treatment for eye floaters depends on the cause of your eye floaters. For example, if you have a torn retina, your ophthalmologist may perform laser photocoagulation. They will use a laser to make tiny burns around your retina tear to create a barrier of scar tissue and stop it from tearing more.

Another laser treatment is called YAG vitreolysis, which vaporizes floaters by heating them up.8 However, this treatment is controversial.

If your eye floaters are due to an eye disease or diabetes, your doctor will prescribe you certain medications and a course of treatment that addresses the root of the floaters. A comprehensive eye exam can help your eye doctor determine the best treatment for your particular case.

Some eye floaters will eventually settle and go away on their own.

Seeing Spots: Common Questions & Answers

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about what happens when spots occur in your line of vision:

Is seeing black spots a sign of diabetes?

These spots could be a sign of vitreous hemorrhage, which is a complication of diabetic retinopathy.

Can low blood pressure cause you to see spots?

Yes, low blood pressure can cause you to see spots. You may also experience dizziness when seeing spots related to low blood pressure.

Can high blood pressure cause you to see spots?

Yes, high blood pressure can cause you to see spots. High blood pressure can damage the light-sensitive tissue in your retina, leading to bleeding in your eye.4 Bleeding can cause you to see spots. It can also lead to a loss of vision.

Why am I dizzy and seeing spots?

You may be dizzy and see spots for several reasons. This may be due to eye or head trauma, low blood pressure, or another reason. 

If you are seeing spots, call for medical help immediately.

9 Cited Research Articles
  1. Eye Floaters,” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Aug. 2020. 
  2. Flashes of Light,” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 17 Dec. 2020.
  3. Floaters,” National Eye Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. Skerrett, Patrick J. “What You Can Do about Floaters and Flashes in the Eye,” Harvard Health, 16 Apr. 2020.
  5. How High Blood Pressure Can Affect Your Body,” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Nov. 2019. 
  6. Specks in Your Vision Can Signal Serious Eye Conditions,” Harvard Health, 1 June 2013.
  7. Sudden Appearance of Floaters and Flashes Can Signal Serious Eye Issues,”UCLA Health, n.d.
  8. What Should You Do about Those Unpleasant Eye Floaters?” Harvard Health, 1 Oct. 2017.
  9. Dark Spots in Vision,” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 30 Sep. 2020.
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