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Eye Health Center

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Eye Floaters (Benign)

Eye floaters are small moving spots that appear in your field of vision. They may be especially noticeable when you look at something bright, such as white paper or a blue sky.

Eye floaters can be annoying, but they generally don't interfere with your sight.

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Occasionally a particularly large eye floater may cast a subtle shadow over your vision. But this tends to occur only in certain types of light.

Most of the time people learn to live with eye floaters and ignore them. And they often become less noticable over months to years. Only rarely do benign eye floaters become bothersome enough to consider treatment.

But sometimes eye floaters are a sign of a more serious condition. You should seek immediate medical attention if you notice a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters.

Immediate medical attention is especially important if the floaters are accompanied by flashes of light or a loss of side vision. If you have these symptoms, see an eye doctor right away. If available, choose an ophthalmologist with retinal expertise. Without immediate treatment, you can have permanent vision loss. These symptoms may be caused by:

Symptoms of Eye Floaters

Eye floaters, when seen, usually appear to have some slight. They generally appear to dart away when you try to focus on them.

Eye floaters can appear in many different shapes, such as:

  • Black or gray dots
  • Squiggly lines
  • Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and semi-transparent
  • Cobwebs
  • Ring shaped

Once you develop eye floaters they usually do not go away, though they tend to improve over time.

Causes of Eye Floaters

Most eye floaters are caused by small flecks of a protein called collagen.

The back compartment of the eye is filled with a gel-like substance called vitreous humor.

As you age, the vitreous and its millions of fine collagen fibers shrink and become shred-like. Shreds can accumulate in the vitreous. The clear vitreous gel which completely fills the back of the eye earlier in life decreases in size and no longer can fill this space…. it pulls away from the retina and it is often the areas of previous attachment to the retina which are seen as floaters as they now float freely in the vitreous gel.

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