What Eye Floaters Mean: A Guide To Eye Health

Eye floaters are small shapes that drift through your field of vision. They can look like threads, circles, dots, cobwebs, or lines. You may notice them more when looking at something bright like the blue sky, a blank wall, or a white piece of paper, and will seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly

Eye floaters may also be accompanied by flashes of light which may seem like they are in front of your eyes, but are in fact floating inside your eye. Although they might be annoying, floaters shouldn’t interfere with your sight.

What Causes Eye Floaters

Floaters are very common and are usually experienced by people with ages above 50. As we get older, the vitreous  – a gel-like fluid in the eye may thicken and shrink, resulting in tiny clumps or strands that create shadows on your retina. These shadows are what we perceive as eye floaters.

Most eye floaters are usually harmless. Many people don’t even notice they have them until they move in front of their line of sight. However, floaters and flashes can also be an indication of a serious retinal problem. It’s always best to see an eye specialist as soon as possible if you experience any of these, to rule out retinal detachment. Retinal detachment needs to be treated urgently, as it can lead to loss of vision.

Other causes of floaters and flashes include trauma or damage to the eye, or migraine headaches.

What’s The Treatment

Most frequently, floaters are not something to worry about and they don’t require treatment. But, they should be first assessed by your doctor. He or she will want you to have a comprehensive eye exam to check whether your retina isn’t damaged. Even if there is no serious condition causing them, floaters should be monitored to ensure they aren’t increasing in number or size over a short period of time.

Mild floaters may become less noticeable with time, as they gradually make it to the bottom of your eye. Although they don’t disappear, they can settle in a spot where you hardly notice them.

Although there are currently no remedies for mild eye floaters, if they annoy you, you can try to get rid of them by moving your eyes up and down. This shifts the fluid around and helps get them out of your field of vision.

In some rare cases, surgical treatment for eye floaters is needed to help you see clearly. If floaters interfere with your vision and make it hard for you to perform simple activities such as reading or driving a car, your eye doctor may recommend a surgery called vitrectomy. This is an intervention in which your doctor will make small cuts in your eye to remove the vitreous and is only recommended in severe cases.

If you’ve started to experience floaters and flashes, or loss of peripheral vision, it might be time to visit your ophthalmologist for a thorough eye exam as soon as possible. An eye doctor can rule out any serious conditions and recommend the right treatment for any minor issues.