Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I see black spots in front of my eyes?"
Occasionally I see little black spots in front of my eyes that flicker in and out. This happens more often when I'm in direct sunlight. What is making this happen?
Seeing occasional black spots is quite normal. It is something that many people experience throughout their lives. The black spots you see are called floaters that are simply a natural sign of aging. They are tiny clumps of dead cells which originally come from the layers of tissue at the back of the eye that appear to be in front of the eye, but are actually floating inside. They are particularly more noticeable when you are looking at a bright background (i.e., direct sunlight). As we get older, the vitreous (the clear gel-like substance in the inside of the eye) tends to shrink slightly and detach from the retina, forming clumps within the eye as shadows that cast on the retina. They will not affect your vision in any significant way and will usually fade over time. Having said all this, it would still be a good idea for you to have a check up because any new symptoms related to your eyes should always be investigated. If I am right about your floaters, the doctor can often see them in your eyes with their special examination light called the ophthalmoscope. Floats are sometimes associated with retinal tears because when the vitreous shrinks it can pull on the retina to cause a tear that can lead to hemorrhaging, retinal detachment and blindness. I recommend a consultation with a primary care doctor who may refer you to an eye specialist if warranted.
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