Eye floaters are small spots that drift through your field of vision. You may notice them more as you move your eyes around or look at something bright like the blue sky or a computer screen. Here are a few things to know about floaters.
What Exactly Are Floaters?
Floaters may look like dots, specks, squiggly lines, or cobwebs floating over your field of vision. However, they are tiny clumps of cells or gel floating around the vitreous, which is the jelly-like substance that fills the eye and contains collagen protein. While a floater appears to be in front of your eye, what you are actually seeing is the shadow it casts on your eye’s retina.
What Causes Them to Form?
As you get older, the vitreous in your eye begins to thicken and shrink. Strands or clumps of collagen can form in the vitreous. A posterior vitreous detachment may occur as the vitreous pulls away from the back of the eye. This often causes floaters to occur, too.
Who’s Most at Risk?
Floaters can occur at any age, but they typically occur between the age of 50 and 75. You are more at risk for developing a floater if you:
- Have had cataract surgery
- Are nearsighted
- Have experienced inflammation inside your eye
- Had an eye injury
- Have diabetic retinopathy or another eye disease
- Have an eye tumor
When Should You Be Concerned?
While floaters can be annoying, most are harmless and do not interfere with your vision. Unless they are blocking your vision, there is no treatment needed. In severe cases, surgery to replace the vitreous with a salt solution may be recommended by your doctor.
However, they could be a sign of a serious eye disorder, such as:
- Torn or detached retina
- Bleeding in the vitreous
- Eye tumor
- Inflammation in the retina or vitreous
Eye floaters do not usually go away. You may notice them less over time. You should contact your eye doctor right away if you notice a sudden change the severity of your floaters or if:
- You see flashes of light
- You have a sudden increase of floaters
- You notice a loss of peripheral vision
- Floaters appear after an eye injury or eye surgery
- You have eye pain
Do not put your vision at risk. If you have concerns about your floaters, contact Valley Eyecare Center to schedule a comprehensive exam with one of our eye doctors.