Have you experienced a strand of hair that falls into your line of sight – but when you go to brush it away, there is nothing there? Thin strands in the vision are usually nothing to worry about, and can be attributed to the presence of ‘eye floaters’.
However, occasionally this can be a symptom of something more serious. Below are some of the main reasons you could experience this eye health symptom, and what you should do to resolve the issue.
1. Eye floaters and flashes
The main reason for a ‘hair’ in the eye is eye floaters, which are clumps of cells found within the eye’s natural lubricating fluid. These appear for almost everyone at some point and is most noticeable when you move your eyes.
If you try to look at the object, it usually slides to one side, moving with your eyeball. Some people have several of these floaters at any given time and experience them daily, while others may only see them occasionally.
They are no cause for concern and are a normal part of life.
What causes eye floaters? Find out more.
However, the sudden onset of a great number of floaters, or loss of vision and flashes appearing in the eye, can indicate a more serious problem known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). This is when the fluid begins to come away from the eye and break up.
Left untreated, PVD could lead to more serious retinal problems and even sight loss.
2. Retinal tear or detachment
A retinal detachment is a medical emergency. If you do not seek help for a suspected retinal detachment or tear, you are putting your sight at risk.
The retina is the part of the eye that processes light and forms images in your brain. It is protected by a jelly-like substance which allows eye movement.
However, this jelly, known as vitreous, can break up and break away from the retina, causing the retina itself to lift and peel. This can cause patches of vision loss and, in extreme cases, complete sight loss.
A detached retina can be treated with surgery and eye function can be partially or completely restored, as long as prompt help is sought.
3. Migraine aura
Migraines are not eye problems, but the first symptoms are often seen within the eye. Sudden distortions in vision can indicate the onset of a migraine attack. Each sufferer experiences their aura slightly differently, and some may have the aura without a headache, or vice-versa.
Migraines could manifest as a strand of hair in the vision, as the sight is slightly distorted by the brain. In a migraine, the hair-like disturbance is likely to shake, flash or move and is often in the corner or lower part of the visual field, rather than the centre.
Discover: the difference between eye floaters and flashes.
When should you seek help for eye floaters?
If you are concerned about the presence of cobwebs in your vision or have noticed any changes to your eyesight, it’s best to seek advice from your local optician or doctor