Seeing A Disappearing Black Dot? What Floaters Are And Why You Should Stop Trying To Remove Yours

Do you have a little black dot that disappears and reappears in one of your eyes at random? Do you assume it a bit of dirt or dust when you see it and rub your eye or try to fish it out with your fingers to no avail? If so, stop; the black dot is not dust or dirt or any other particle on the surface your eye -- it's a floater, and you're going to damage your eye even more if you keep trying to remove it. Continue reading to learn what you should do in this situation.

Why You Should Stop Trying To Remove The Black Dot

The first thing you should know is that you need to make a conscious effort to stop rubbing and/or picking at your eyes. You'll never be able to remove the black dot by doing so (you'll learn below why it's impossible), and you put yourself at risk of developing serious eye conditions. 

When you try to pick the black dot you're seeing out of your eye, you risk scratching your cornea. You also risk exposing your eye to allergens or germs from your fingers. When you rub your eye, it's fluid pressure spikes; if you rub it good and hard, you could increase its pressure by more than 20 times. This rapid spike in pressure could stress your cornea enough to tear it, or it could cause your cornea to be misshapen, thus leading to poor eyesight. For people with myopia, glaucoma, and other eye conditions, the increased pressure could lead to more serious complications, such as detached retina and nerve damage.

Why You Can't Remove The Black Dot

Now it's time to discuss why it's physically impossible to remove this black dot that disappears and reappears in your eye. Your eye is filled with vitreous (a gel-like fluid with lots of collagen in it). As you age, 2 things happen -- the collagen in the vitreous begins to clump up, and the vitreous becomes thinner and more liquid-like. As a result, the clumps of collage can cast shadows through your vitreous and onto your retina, in which case those shadows would appear to you as little black dots. To sum it up, you can't pluck or rub out the floater you occasionally see because it's not on the outside surface of your eye -- it's on the inside of it.

How You Can Stop Seeing The Black Dot

The next time you see the black dot in the corner of your eye, try rapidly looking up and down a few times. This maneuver will shift your vitreous, allowing the collagen clump causing the dot to settle in a different location. In the meantime, phone your optometrist and ask to schedule an appointment for an eye exam.

Why You Should Visit Your Optometrist

Eye floaters are usually harmless, and with the above trick of shaking up your vitreous, yours will likely affect your life very little. However, it's still important that you get yourself to the eye doctor for an exam, because in rare cases, floaters can be the result of a serious underlying condition, such as diabetic retinopathy or eye tumors.

Your eye doctor can also help you with age-related floaters if they become too frequent or too numerous to tolerate by performing a vitrectomy surgery in which some or all of your vitreous is removed and temporarily replaced with a saline solution. The procedure takes roughly 15-30 minutes (depending on the surgical equipment used) and requires no stitches. After surgery, your eye will gradually expel the saline solution and replace it with eye fluid that it makes itself. 

If you occasionally see a black dot in your field of vision, don't worry; it's likely a harmless floater that can be easily shaken away. Do, however, visit an optometrist for an eye exam to rule out more serious conditions and to discuss whether or not your situation is severe enough to warrant a vitrectomy. If you still have questions, click to read more about local eye services.