Healthy Living

What are Eye Floaters?

What are Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters are small, moving specks on the eyeball that often occur in one's field of vision. These grey or black dots, become more prominent while looking at a bright object. If the floaters are large they may shadow vision, but in most cases, eye floaters are harmless. People often neglect or ignore the presence of these specks in their vision, and most of the time this condition may improve after a while. Under normal conditions, these spots do not require any specific treatment. Floaters may be seen in one or both the eyes.

People with eye floaters may feel the presence of dark spots or small cobwebs that move around the eye. When one tries to look at these spots, the floats move away from one's field of vision. They are more noticeable while looking at bright objects or a plain background like, the sky or a wall. Floaters may be of different sizes and shapes, including lines, strands, dots, rings, or webs.

Floaters are caused by the shrinking of the collagen fibers and vitreous humor in the eye, which often happens with age. The small fibers clump together within the gel-like vitreous and cause shadows. This affects the amount of light reaching the retina. These changes are very common between the ages of 50-years-old and 75-years-old, however, the changes can also affect anyone, at any age. Cataract surgery can increase the risk of developing eye floaters.

Eye floaters are associated with conditions like:

  • Bleeding in the vitreous
  • Retinal detachment
  • Retinal tear
  • Inflammation of retina or vitreous
  • Tumors in the eye

These spots may be a result of:

Migraines are associated with a specific form of floaters that enter one's field of vision just before the headache begins.

Eye floaters that do not change over a period of time may be harmless and do not affect an individual's vision. However, if there are changes, it should be one should consult with a health care profession because it can be serious.

Certain changes to eye floaters that will need further medical attention include:

  • Worsening symptoms
  • Vision loss due to floaters
  • Sudden appearance of flashes of light
  • Eye pain
  • Floaters developing after eye surgery

No specific treatments are suggested for eye floaters. Yet, if there are changes and they affect an individual's vision, vitrectomy is recommended. In this surgical procedure, the debris in the eye are removed. Laser therapy may also be used to dissolve eye floaters.