Eye floaters are tiny spots that seem to enter your field of vision from nowhere. They may be small, dark, and almost transparent; or they may be larger and more cloudy. Floaters usually cast a shadow on the retina, making them more visible when you look at a bright, solid background such as a blue sky or white paper. Floaters appear to move along with your eyes because they sit in the vitreous humor – the clear jelly-like substance that fills the inside of your eyeball. Floaters can be annoying, but they’re usually nothing to worry about.
In this blog post, we’ll share more information about eye floaters.
What causes eye floaters?
Eye floaters are usually caused by age-related changes in the vitreous humor – the clear jelly-like substance that fills the inside of your eyeball. As you get older, some of the collagen and other proteins within the vitreous start to break down and form clumps. These clumps cast shadows on the retina (the sensitive membrane at the back of your eye), which you see as floaters.
Floaters can also be caused by bleeding in the eye, diabetes, migraine attacks, or injury to your eye. In these cases, floaters tend to be more numerous, larger, and more prominent, and can also be accompanied by light flashes.
If you experience a sudden increase in floaters with light flashes, it’s important to seek urgent medical care as this could suggest retinal detachment – where part of your retina has become detached from its normal position at the back of your eye. This can cause vision loss if not treated immediately.
Most people have minor floaters from time to time without any problems, but if you develop new floaters it’s best to see an optometrist, just in case they indicate a more serious problem with your eyesight.
Are there any treatments for eye floaters?
In most cases, treatment for floaters isn’t necessary as they don’t affect your vision and eventually settle down at the bottom of your eyeball out of harm’s way. If you’re particularly bothered by them, however, there are two types of surgical procedures that can sometimes help:
- Vitrectomy – during this operation the vitreous is removed from your eye and replaced with either saline (a sterile salt water solution) or silicone oil to help keep your retina in place while it heals
- Laser surgery – during this operation very fine laser beams are used to break up clumps of cells so that they disperse into smaller pieces that are less likely to be noticed
While floaters are usually nothing to worry about, it’s best to speak to an optometrist if you experience sudden onset floaters or increased floater activity. There are two types of surgical procedures available should you wish to explore treatment options further.