Eye floaters

Cecil’s explanation of eye “floaters” appears in More of the Straight Dope, and although I couldn’t find the column here, I thought this was a “Comment on Cecil’s Columns”. Anyway, how big are floaters? Are they microscopic, and we can see them only because they are so close, actually within the eye? Some of mine look something like cells; I find it hard to believe we can see things this small.

In the archives, under “classic columns”:
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_311.html Fascinating column.

As Cecil says, floaters are usually little bits of debris floating around your eyes. No problem.

But I’ll get a little stronger than he was about sudden increases in floaters (especially if you get flashes or any other visual disturbance): Go see the nearest ophthalmologist NOW!

Your retina can start to peel off if a hole (I typed ‘tear’, but realized that only works if I say it) lets fluid get behind it. It starts to die as soon as it loses blood flow. Just about any doctor will set up the surgery for the next day or so, and you will probably not lose much vision.

Unfortunately, I beat the odds and have one eye that’s not much use any more, so I’m a little twitchy on the subject.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

I second rjk - my mother is recuperating from laser surgery to repair a detached retina. floaters are okay; flashes and black spots are a sign to run, not walk, to an opthamologist.

To throw a little more information on the pile: A few months ago I started seeing floaters (periodic spots in my vision) in my right eye. I quickly dragged my eyeballs into my opthamologist who was able to figure out what most likely caused the problem. I own a stained glass studio, and do a lot of hot glass kiln work. There is a peep-hole in the kiln which was I was told had UV protective coating, but I made the mistake of believing the manufacturer and didn’t wear my UV protective glasses when peering into the kiln (with my right eye) to check out the hot/glowing glass.

So, despite the initial verdict of UV damage to my right eye, the good news is that after a few months the floaters have disappeared - Lucky Me!

I don’t know how much UV exposure will increase liklihood of floaters, any ideas? Can too much unprotected beach time contribute to floater risks?