Eye Floaters

What are floaters?

Floaters appear as spots or strands which drift across the vision as the eye moves.

Floaters themselves are harmless and don’t usually interfere with your vision – you may even have them without noticing. This is because your brain constantly adapts to changes in your vision and learns to ignore them. However, in a significant minority, floaters can cause disturbances that affect the quality of vision. If this persists, treatment can be offered. However, the first step is establishing the underlying cause.

There are two types:

  • Long term floaters: usually a symptom of vitreous degeneration and can be very annoying if you suffer with them. They are caused by break-up of the vitreous jelly which fills the inside of the eye. Vitreous gel is 99% water and 1% clear solids that are present from birth. The solids start to become opaque as the gel degenerates.
  • Acute floaters: A sudden occurrence of floaters, sometimes associated with flashing lights, may indicate that a posterior vitreous detachment (P.V.D) is occurring which could cause a retinal tear. This in turn could lead to a retinal detachment. Acute floaters should be treated as a medical emergency and professional medical advice should be sought within 24 hours.

More about floaters


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