What are Floaters in the Eye?
Have you ever noticed small, dark, and often squiggly shapes floating in your field of vision? If so, you’ve seen eye floaters. Most people have experienced floaters at some point in their lives. They’re usually harmless and no treatment is required.
What Causes Eye Floaters?
Bits of debris that float in the vitreous* cause floaters in the eye. The vitreous comprises 98% water and 2% solid matter, including collagen fibres, cells, and other proteins. Through age, our vitreous shrinks and develops clumping. These clumps cast shadows on the retina, which creates the appearance of floaters. In some cases, however, floaters can indicate an underlying health condition. Irritation caused by inflammation in the eye, and eye haemorrhage can also cause floaters, those who have diabetes and have experienced eye trauma should also keep a close watch out for a case of Eye Floaters. Here are some of the causes of floaters to watch out for:
- Irritation caused by inflammation in the eye
- Hemorrage in the eye
- Eye trauma
When Should I Worry About Eye Floaters?
Eye Floaters are normally nothing to worry about as they are common and do not require treatment. However, you should see an eye doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Sudden onset of floaters
- Flashes of light in your field of vision
- Increased number of floaters
- Loss of peripheral vision
These symptoms can be signs of severe, urgent conditions like retinal detachment, which requires immediate care as it may cause a loss of vision.
How to treat eye floaters?
There is no treatment for floaters. In most cases, they eventually settle at the bottom of your eye and become less noticeable. If floaters bother you, try the following tips to make them less noticeable:
- Look up and away from the floaters
- Move your eyes from side to side
- Blink your eyes
If floaters interfere with your vision, you may be able to opt for a vitrectomy. This is a surgical procedure which involves the vitreous being replaced with a saline solution. However, the surgery is not a light procedure, it is a difficult one which carries risks of causing retinal detachment and cataracts. The surgery is usually only recommended if floaters severely affect your quality of life. *Vitreous: Clear gel inside your eye that maintains the eye’s shape and allows light to pass through and reach the retina.