What are floaters?
Small specks, dots, circles, “cobwebs” or lines moving in your field of vision are called floaters. (Some people think the floaters look like “bugs”.) Floaters can be more visible when looking at a plain background like a blank wall or blue sky, or going from a bright to a dark room.
Floaters are actually tiny clumps of the vitreous, the clear gel-like substance that fills the inside of your eye. Although floaters appear to be in the front of the eye, they are actually floating in the vitreous fluid inside the eye. The floaters that we see are the shadows cast on the retina, the part of the eye that senses light and allows you to see.
What causes floaters?
As time passes on the body, the vitreous gel starts to harden and condense, forming clumps or strands inside the eye. As vitreous gel shrinks, it pulls away from retinal lining the back of the eye, causing a “Posterior Vitreous Detachment” or PVD. This process will occur in all people eventually, but can occur due to trauma, or eye surgery.
Are floaters ever serious?
Sometimes, the shrinking of the vitreous causes a break or tear in the retina, which can lead to a retinal detachment. A retinal detachment can cause loss of vision, so we recommend all people with new symptoms of floaters, or increasing floaters with flashing lights or a change in central or side vision, to call us immediately (even over the weekend).
Can floaters be removed?
If floaters are significantly impacting your vision, they can be removed with eye surgery, or sometimes a laser treatment. Most floaters will decrease in apparent size and frequency over time, and no treatment is required.