“Floaters” in your eyes cause a wide range of reactions when they are encountered from annoyance and fear to bewilderment and distracting, but should they be cause for concern. If you never experienced a floater, let’s discuss how they appear. They come in various shapes and sizes strings, squiggly lines, dots, circles and cobweb-like. These greyish transparent spots weave in and out of your vision and often appear when looking at a blue sky or a bright white wall.
What Are Floaters?
Most of the eye is filled with a viscous gel called the vitreous humor. The vitreous is made up of water and collagen and helps stabilize and nourish the eye. Over time this structure starts to break down and pieces of the collagen structure break off and float in the fluid. These fibers may clump together and start casting a shadow on the retina. This is the shadow that we perceive. As this structure continues to breakdown, it can cause traction on the retina and sometimes cause a retinal detachment or even a macular hole.
If floaters are accompanied by flashes of light, pain, sudden multiplication of floaters, vision loss or the vision of that eye has a reddish or brownish hue they may indicate a need to be seen by an optometrist.
- Posterior uveitis
- Bleeding in the eye
- Floaters can appear after eye surgery or an injury to the eye.
- Torn retina or retina detachment
Here is a video showing vitreous floaters in vivo: https://youtu.be/sxroMCVgpPk
Dr. Matthew Ozment
Optometrist, Broken Arrow OK