What are Eye Floaters, and Should I Be Concerned?

Oct 25, 2022 | Eye Health

You may notice while looking at a bright screen or a beautiful blue sky that there are tiny spots or lines in your field of vision. These spots or lines may be small, dark, and almost transparent; or they may be larger and cloudier. These spots or lines are known as eye floaters.  

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?   

Age-related changes in the eye 

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 we age, 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 light-sensitive membrane at the back of your eye), which you see as floaters.   

Eye conditions, disease, injury, migraines, retinal detachment 

Eye 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 eye 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 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 saltwater solution) or silicone oil to help keep your retina in place while it heals. A vitrectomy is one of the procedures used to repair a detached retina, which can cause a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters.  

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.   

Conclusion   

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.  

If you are concerned about your eye floaters, the optometrists at Lighthouse Vision in Milford will dilate your eyes during a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause of the floaters.