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Eye Floaters (Benign)

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Causes of Eye Floaters continued...

Rarely, eye floaters can result from other eye surgery or:

  • Eye disease
  • Eye injury
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Crystal-like deposits that form in the vitreous
  • Eye tumors such as lymphoma (rarely)

Serious eye disorders associated with eye floaters include:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Retinal tear
  • Vitreous hemorrhage (bleeding)
  • Vitreous and retinal inflammation caused by viral infections, fungal infections, or auto-immune inflammation
  • Eye tumors

In addition, 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:

  • Eye floaters seem to worsen over time, especially if the changes are sudden in onset.
  • You experience flashes of light or any vision loss accompanied by eye floaters.
  • You develop eye floaters after eye surgery or eye trauma.
  • You have eye pain along with eye floaters.

Treatment of Eye Floaters

Benign eye floaters almost never require medical treatment.

If they are bothersome, you can move them away from your field of vision by moving your eyes. This maneuver shifts the fluid in your eyes. Looking up and down is usually more effective than looking from side to side.

If eye floaters are so dense and numerous that they affect your vision, your eye doctor may consider a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. During this procedure, the vitreous and its floating debris are removed and replaced with a salt solution.

Vitrectomy may have complications, such as:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Retinal tears
  • Cataracts

The risks of such complications are quite high. Most surgeons will not perform vitrectomy unless eye floaters are seriously affecting the patient's vision.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on September 09, 2012
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