Eye Floaters (cont.)
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Exams and Tests
A chief complaint of eye floater, particularly of recent onset, requires a full eye evaluation and examination, including dilation of the pupils in one or both eyes. The evaluation includes a vision check (visual acuity), an eye pressure measurement (tonometry), examination under the slit lamp or biomicroscope, and examination of the vitreous and retina after dilation. The vitreous and retina comprise the posterior segment or back of the eye. Highly specialized polished and coated lenses are used to view the posterior segment through the slit lamp and with the indirect ophthalmoscope. The indirect is worn on the head of the eye doctor and strongly resembles a coal miner's hat. Many of the lenses used to view the posterior segment are simply handheld without contacting the eye. At times, a full view cannot be afforded by non-contact means, and a lens that touches the eye is required. In order to accomplish this diagnostic contact lens examination, a drop of anesthetic is first placed in the eye, the removable contact lens is sterilized and a thick lubricant placed on the lens. This same type of lens is often used during laser surgery of a retinal tear.
Additional testing may be recommended by your eye-care professional. These tests may include photography of the posterior segment, visual field testing to asses loss of central or peripheral vision, retinal tomography imaging to determine the thickness of the retina or optic nerve, or fluorescein angiography to assess blood vessel leakage. Complete evaluation and treatment of pathologic causes of eye floaters may require several visits to your eye doctor.
John D. Sheppard, MD, MMSc
David M. Salib, MD
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