Are you seeing "spots" in your visual field? There are a number of potential causes of this symptom, some of which are more concerning than others. Here's a look at the most common reasons people see spots, and how each issue can be addressed.
Are the spots you're seeing most obvious when you look at a plain background? Do they seem to drift and move as you move your eyes? Are they very small and almost unnoticeable if you don't focus on them? If you don't have any other symptoms, the spots may just be "floaters." These are located within the eye itself – in the vitreous humor that forms the back portion of your eyeball. They're just clumps of protein, and they block little portions of your visual field making it look like you're seeing spots. Usually, floaters are harmless and nothing to worry about, but you should get them checked out by an eye doctor just to make sure nothing more sinister is going on. Your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops to help reduce your floaters and keep new ones from forming.
If you're a diabetic, the sudden appearance of spots in your visual field may indicate that you're suffering from diabetic retinopathy, a rather serious condition that affects your retina and optic nerve. These spots may be small or large, and they tend to look like dark or empty spaces in your visual field. If your eye doctor confirms that you have diabetic retinopathy, treatment will likely involve amending your diabetes management to keep your blood sugar levels under better control, and possibly laser surgery to prevent additional damage to your retina. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy may eventually lead to a complete loss of sight.
Do the spots in your visual field appear for a while, and then disappear again? Are they accompanied by symptoms like confusion, nausea, or a headache? You may be suffering from ocular migraines, which are migraines that alter your visual field. Not all ocular migraines are actually accompanied by headaches, and many people experience the spotted vision before the actual headache sets in. If you suspect the spots you're seeing are due to migraines, make an appointment with a neurologist. He or she can prescribe medications to make your migraines less frequent and less severe, hopefully doing away with these ocular symptoms completely.
Don't ignore the presence of spots in your visual field. While there's a good chance they're just floaters, it's always best to be checked by an eye doctor (such as one from Coastal Eye Group PC) to rule out more serious issues like retinal problems and migraines – just in case.