Eye floaters are black or grey specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly. They do not follow your eye movements precisely, and usually drift when your eyes stop moving. In some cases, a large floater may cast a shadow over your vision and cause a large, dark spot in your sight.
Most people ignore floaters because they are usually not noticed until they become prominent. Floaters can become apparent when looking at something bright. They may be present in only one eye or both.
If you notice an increase in eye floaters, visit an eye specialist immediately- especially if you encounter light flashes or lose your peripheral vision.
Causes of eye floaters
There are different causes of eye floaters including:
- The age factor: Eye floaters most commonly appear as a result of age-related changes in the vitreous- the jelly-like substance that fills your eyeballs and helps maintain their round shape. Over time, the vitreous partially liquefies. When this happens, the vitreous shrinks, sags, clumps and gets gristly.
- Swelling in the back of the eye: Posterior uveitis is inflammation in the layers of the uvea in the back of the eye. The condition, which can cause eye floaters, may be the result of infection or inflammatory diseases.
- Bleeding in the eye: Bleeding into the vitreous can have many causes, including injury and blood vessel problems.
Signs and symptoms of eye floaters include:
- Spots in your vision that appear as dark specks or knobby, transparent strings of floating material
- Spots that move when you move your eyes, so when you try to look at them, they move quickly out of your visual field
- Spots that are most noticeable when you look at a plain bright background, such as a blue sky or a white wall
- Spots that eventually settle down and drift out of the line of vision
Eye floaters can be annoying, and adjusting to them can take time. They don’t necessarily require treatment while you learn to ignore them or notice them less often. However, in rare cases where eye floaters impair your vision, your eye doctor may suggest one of the following treatments:
- Using a laser to disrupt the floaters: An ophthalmologist targets a special laser at the floaters in the vitreous, which may break them and make them less noticeable. Some people who receive this kind of treatment report improved vision. Laser therapy may damage your retina if the laser is aimed incorrectly.
- Using surgery to remove the vitreous: An ophthalmologist removes the vitreous through a small incision and replaces it with a solution to help your eye maintain its shape. Surgery may not remove all the floaters, and new floaters are likely to develop post surgery.
Most eye floaters occur as part of the natural ageing process. While you cannot prevent eye floaters, you can make sure they are not the result of a larger problem. As soon as you notice eye floaters, visit an ophthalmologist