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What are those tiny particles that move in front of the eyes?

  • Posted on- Apr 19, 2016
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Written by site author.

The eye contains vitreous humour, which is a clear, jelly-like substance that helps maintain the shape of the eyeball. Vitreous humour acts as a shock absorber when the eye is pushed out of shape. The vitreous is more than 98 per cent water, but is two to four times more viscous. Floaters are suspended in the vitreous humour, which means they move around. Floaters in your peripheral vision tend to go unnoticed, but sometimes particles can cross in front of the central vision.

Characteristics of eye floaters

  • They can be different shapes, such as tiny spots, flecks, clear little bubbles, threads or webs.
  • They are particularly visible when looking at a light-coloured area, such as a blue sky.
  • The floaters move as the eyes move, often with a slight lag.
  • Large floaters can present as diminished areas of vision, but this is very rare.

If a floater troubles you, you can try looking up and down, and from side to side, to swish the vitreous humour and move the floater out of the way. However, this does not always work. While some people find floaters troublesome, they are typically harmless and surgery is not indicated.

Flashing lights and floaters

Sometimes, floaters can be associated with flashing lights. This can be caused by events including:
  • Vitreous humour pulling at the retina, when moving or turning your eye quickly
  • Retinal detachment
  • Migraine, either with or without associated headaches
  • Postural hypotension - getting up quickly from a kneeling, sitting or lying position resulting in dizziness and vision disturbance
  • High blood pressure
  • A blow to the eye

Floaters are usually harmless. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience a sudden increase in floaters, particularly if they are accompanied by flashing lights, or a new big floater. This is especially important if you are short-sighted or have had an operation for cataracts.

Eye floaters are extremely common in adults with almost everyone over the age of 70 being affected by it. Although, they can be annoying but the presence of eye floaters is hardly dangerous in itself. However, it is best for a person developing eye floaters, to consult an ophthalmologist to rule out any chances of eye abnormalities. For example, a sudden onset of many eye floaters or the onset of eye floaters associated with flashing lights could signify a retinal tear that requires treatment to prevent retinal detachment. Most of these floaters may decrease in size and intensity with time or shift position within the eye, leading to a shadow effect. Usually, the nerves within the brain adapt to and often become used to the presence of eye floaters, thus, ignoring them and making them less bothersome for you.


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15-12-2017 11:57 AM

It was nicely written, new things were add on to my knowldege.

user profile image
25-08-2016 08:21 PM

Great information shared. This state mostly gets unnoticed but sometimes particles can cross in front of the central vision.

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