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Eye Health Center

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Eye Floaters (Benign)

Causes of Eye Floaters continued...

These changes can happen at any age. They most often occur between ages 50 and 75, especially in people who are very nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.

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

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. Certain types of migraine headaches can be associated with scintillating, kaleidoscope-type visual patterns with some apparent movement but these do not really resemble the spider web floaters and flashbulb type “flashes” seen with vitreous and retinal conditions.

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 an eye 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:

The risks of such complications is small but if they occur vision can be permanently damaged. For this reason most surgeons will not perform vitrectomy unless eye floaters are causing an extraordinary visual handicap.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on March 22, 2015
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