Eye floaters are small moving spots that appear in your
field of vision. They may be especially noticeable when you
look at something bright, such as white paper or a blue sky.
Eye floaters can be annoying, but they generally don't
interfere with your sight. Occasionally a particularly large
eye floater may cast a subtle shadow over your vision. But
this tends to occur only in certain types of light.
Most of the time people learn to live with eye floaters and
ignore them. And they often improve over months to years.
Only rarely do benign eye floaters become bothersome enough
to consider treatment.
But sometimes eye floaters are a sign of a more serious
condition. You should seek immediate medical attention if
you notice a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters
Immediate medical attention is especially important if the
floaters are accompanied by flashes of light or a loss of
side vision. If you have these symptoms, see an eye doctor
right away. Without immediate treatment, you can have
permanent vision loss.
These symptoms may be caused by:
within the eye
of Eye Floaters
Eye floaters move as the eyes move. They generally appear to
dart away when you try to focus on them.
Eye floaters can appear in many different shapes, such as:
- Black or
Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and
develop eye floaters they usually do not go away, though
they tend to improve over time.
Causes of Eye Floaters
Most eye floaters are caused by small flecks of a protein
The back compartment of the eye is filled with a gel-like
substance called vitreous humor.
As you age, the vitreous and its millions of fine collagen
fibers shrink and become shred-like. Shreds can accumulate
in the vitreous. This can cause a change in the amount of
light that hits the retina -- the light-sensitive tissue in
the back of the eye. This change causes the symptoms of eye
These changes can happen at any age. They most often occur
between ages 50 and 75, especially in people who are very
nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.
Rarely, eye floaters can result from other eye surgery or:
Crystal-like deposits that form in the vitreous
tumors such as lymphoma (rarely)
disorders associated with eye floaters include:
and retinal inflammation caused by viral infections,
fungal infections, or auto-immune inflammation
a unique form of eye floaters is associated with the visual
aura of migraine headaches
When to Seek Medical Attention for Eye Floaters
If you only have a few eye floaters that don't change over
time, it usually does not indicate a serious eye problem.
It's important to see a doctor if:
floaters seem to worsen over time, especially if the
changes are sudden in onset.
experience flashes of light or any vision loss
accompanied by eye floaters.
develop eye floaters after eye surgery or eye trauma.
- You have
eye pain along with eye float