What are Floaters?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 16, 2013
Quick Bites

  • Floaters are the tiny strings that float into the field of vision.
  • Large floaters can cause a large and a dark spot on the sight.
  • Common cause of eye floaters is age-related changes to the eye.
  • Floaters usually don’t require any type of treatmen

Tiny strings that float into the field of vision are known as the floaters. Eye floaters usually do not cause any pain or discomfort. They can be black or gray dots, lines, cobwebs, or blobs. Large floaters can cause a largeoand a dark spot on the sight by casting a shadow over the vision.  The floaters are inside the fluid of the eye and they move as the eyes move. They dart out the vision when you try to look at them. They commonly appear on staring at a bright, plain surface, such as the sky, a reflective object, or blank paper and can be present in only one eye, or they may occur in both the eyes.


What Causes Eye Floaters?

The most common cause of eye floaters is age-related changes to the eye. The cornea and lens at the front of the eye focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye. Light travels from the front of the eye to the back and passes through a jelly-like substance inside the eyeball called the vitreous humor.

Changes to the vitreous humor can lead to eye floaters.  Vitreous syneresis is a process in which the thick vitreous begins to liquefy with age and the inside of the eyeball gets crowded with accumulation of debris and deposits causing clumping of microscopic fibers of the vitreous. As they do, when  the debris passes through the eye it can be caught in the path of the light casting shadows on the retina and causing eye floaters.

Some Less common causes of eye floaters include:

Eye injury:

Some eye floaters occur when the eye is hit by an object or damaged during an accident


People who are nearsighted experience eye floaters more frequently.


Swelling, inflammation and infection in the   can cause eye floaters


crystal-like deposits may form in the vitreous and interfere with light passing from the front of the eye to the back

Diabetic Retinopathy:

diabetes can damage the blood vessels that lead to the retina. When those vessels become damaged, the retina may not be able to interpret the images and light hitting it

eye problems

How Are Eye Floaters Treated?

Floaters often don’t require any type of treatment as they are not serious disorder. Roll the eyes from side to side and up and down to move the debris to shift the fluid in the eyes, when you have temporarily obstructing vision.

If the underlying condition worsens, floaters may begin to impair the vision. Laser removal or surgery is done when the floaters become bothersome and numerous causing difficulties in seeing. In laser removal, your ophthalmologist uses a laser to break up the eye floaters and make them less noticeable in your vision. Laser removal is not widely used because it is considered experimental and somewhat dangerous by many eye doctors.

How to Prevent These Eye Floaters?

Most eye floaters occur as part of the natural aging process so these eye floaters cannot be prevented. But it is important to make sure they are not hinting towards a larger problem which can’t be ignored. As soon as you notice the floaters in your eyes, you should visit your ophthalmologist. Your doctor needs to make sure that your eye floaters are not a symptom of a more serious condition that could damage your vision completely.


Image Courtesy : Getty Images

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