White specks in the pupil.
August 20, 2007 2:36 AM   Subscribe

Dozens of white specks in my pupils, but what does it mean?

I went in for an eye exam, one that was given for free at my glasses store. The optometrist during the exam told me that I have "dozens of white specks" in my pupils. (It's been a couple weeks, but I'm fairly certain he said pupil, as he remarked on this after he looked into my eyes through the pupils.) The specks were found in both eyes. These specks are not visible when I look in the mirror, nor do they affect my vision as far as I can tell. I do not remember if he said they are stationary or swimming around, so to speak.

I have had dozens of eye exams before, the most recent before that was about 7 months before this one. No other examiner has mentioned white specks. When I asked him if this was going to develop into a problem, he sort of shrugged and seemed very non-chalant. He did not tell me what it could be or mean. Is this common, or is it something I should have examined immediately? The optomitirist's unconcerned reaction makes me think it's something I shouldn't be worried with, but the fact that it hasn't been previously mentioned to me makes me a bit concerned.

Information that may or may not be useful: 22 year old woman, never wore contacts, nearsighted, have been wearing glasses full time for about 8 years.
posted by piratebowling to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
The person that did your eye exam is an optometrists, who only really has to know about fitting you for glasses / contacts. You need to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist who can tell you for sure if you have an issue. There are a lot of medical sites out there with information about "white spots," but no specific diagnosis that I could match to what you are describing. Who knows, maybe he was looking into your eye with an instrument that had dust on the lens.

Have a professional take a look at your eyes.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 2:56 AM on August 20, 2007

Yeah, I thought that part of this may be a Optometrist vs. Opthamologist issue, so thanks for mentioning that as well.
posted by piratebowling at 4:48 AM on August 20, 2007

It sounds a bit like floaters, especially since you're nearsighted, except you say they aren't affecting your vision. You're lucky, if so - I'm your age and they've recently become much more noticeable for me. They're nearly always benign, which is probably why the optometrist didn't seem fussed about them.
posted by Drexen at 5:49 AM on August 20, 2007

Optometrists are medical professionals with four years of training specifically in eye care, while opthamologists are MDs with a specialty in eye care (the same way a cardiologist specializes in heart-related matters, for example). Both are referred to as "doctors". The first poster is confusing optometrists with opticians, who are technicians who fit glasses and lenses. So you may want a second opinion, but you probably don't need an opthamologist, just a more communicative optometrist.

I am none of those professionals, but I do know that macular degeneration presents as white specks, so it is definitely worth checking out with someone who can give you more information.
posted by judith at 6:05 AM on August 20, 2007

I saw a new optometrist last week and was told I had many tiny congenital cataracts - said they looked like little grains of salt, they've always been there, and they do not and will not affect my vision - he only mentioned them so that I would be aware in case of a cataract investigation in the distant future. I grew up going to an ophthalmologist who never remarked on them - my impression was they're common and harmless.
posted by zepheria at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2007

Several pharmaceuticals can leave deposits in the eye. Are you on medications? And, I'll second that about optometrists. They receive a lot of instruction in eye disease and should have been able to give more information as to what are possible causes. An ophthamologist is a physician's specialty and the person would have had less training regarding the eye, but more regarding surgery and other health problems that may present in the eye. I would trust an optometrist more on general eye matters and an ophthamologist on eye surgery.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:09 AM on August 20, 2007

An ophthamologist [sic] is a physician's specialty and the person would have had less training regarding the eye, but more regarding surgery
I don't want to get bogged down in an optometrist/ophthalmologist debate here, but it is not accurate to characterize optometrists as having a greater medical knowledge of the eye than an ophthalmologist.

And if you don't believe a random person on the internet (disclaimer: my father is an ophthalmologist), here is a random quote from the internet:
An ophthalmologist is qualified to deliver total eye care, meaning vision services, eye examinations, medical and surgical eye care, and diagnosis and treatment of disease and visual complications that are caused by other conditions, like diabetes.
As to your question, I would say that you should go back to your (or another) optometrist, and if they can cannot tell you with 100% certainty exactly what they are looking at, that you should go see an ophthalmologist.
posted by misterbrandt at 12:57 PM on August 20, 2007

The primary symptom of white specks is that they keep you from seeing white specks in your eyes.
posted by lastobelus at 10:29 PM on August 20, 2007

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