Eye Floaters: May Be Causing Spots To Appear In Your Vision And What To Do About Them

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Eye floaters are spots in your vision.  Eye floaters may look like black or gray specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes.

Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes becomes more liquid.  When this happens, microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump together and can cast tiny shadows on your retina, which you may see as eye floaters.

If you notice a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters, contact an eye specialist immediately- especially if you see flashes of light or lose your peripheral vision.  These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention.


Symptoms of eye floaters may include:

  • Spots in your vision that may look like dark specks or knobby, transparent strings of floating material.
  • Spots that move when you move your eyes, so when you look at them, they move quickly out of your vision 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.

When to see a doctor.

Consult an eye specialist promptly if you notice:

  • Many more floaters than usual.
  • A sudden onset of new floaters.
  • Flashes of light.
  • Darkness on the sides of your vision (peripheral vision loss)

These painless symptoms could be caused by a retinal tear, with or without a retinal detachment-a sight threatening condition that requires immediate attention.


Eye floaters may be caused by:

  • Age related eye changes.  Eye floaters most commonly occur as a result of age-related changes in the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that fills your eyeballs and helps them retain their round shape.  Over time, the vitreous changes in consistency and partially liquefies – a process that causes it to shrink and pull away from the interior surface of the eyeball.  As the vitreous shrinks and sags, it clumps up and gets stringy.  Bits of this debris block some of the light passing through the eye, casting tiny shadows on your retina.
  • Inflammation in the back of the eye.  Posterior uveitis is inflammation in the layers of the uvea in the back of the eye.  Posterior uveitis, which can cause eye floaters, may be caused by infection or inflammatory diseases, among other causes.
  • Bleeding in the eye.  Vitreous hemorrhage is bleeding into the eye’s jelly-like vitreous.  Bleeding in the eye can have many causes, including injury and blood vessel problems.
  • Torn retina.  Retinal tears can occur when a sagging vitreous tugs on the retina with enough force to tear it.  A retinal tear may cause new floaters to appear in your vision.  Without treatment, retinal tear may lead to retinal detachment – an accumulation of fluid behind the retina that causes it to separate from the back of your eye.  Untreated retinal detachment can cause permanent eye loss.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of floaters include:

  • Age over 50.
  • Nearsightedness.
  • Eye trauma.
  • Complications from cataract surgery.
  • Diabetic retinopathy.
  • Inflammation in the eye.

Tests and diagnosis

Your doctor will conduct a complete eye exam to make sure your floaters aren’t a sign of something more serious.  Part of the exam will include looking into your eyes after your doctor has placed pupil-dilating drops into your eyes.

Treatment and Drugs

Most eye floaters don’t require treatment.

In most cases, ye floaters don’t require treatment.  Learning to cope with your floaters may take time.  Living with eye floaters may be frustrating.  With time,  you may find that you can ignore the floaters more easily and that you notice the floaters less often.

You and your eye doctor may consider treatment for your eye floaters.

Options may include:

  • Using a laser to dissolve floaters.  During laser therapy, an ophthalmologist aim a laser in the vitreous.  The laser may break up the floaters and make them less noticeable.  Some people  who undergo laser therapyfor their floaters report improved vsion, while others notice little or no difference.  Risks of laser therapy include damage to your retina that can occur if the laser is pointed incorrectly.  Laser surgery to treat floaters is considered experimental and isn’t widely used.
  • Using surgery to remove the vitreous.  During a vitrectomy procedure, an opthamologist makes a small incision in your eye and removes gel-like vitreos.  A solution is placed in the eye to help maintain it’s shape.  Eventually, your body makes and fills your eye with fluid that will replace the solution.  Vitrectomy may not remove all the floaters in your vision, and new floaters can develop after surgery.  Risks of vitrectomy include bleeding and retinal tears
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