Eye Floaters

Witlin Center for Advanced Eyecare

Ophthalmologists located in East Brunswick, NJ

You’ve likely noticed little bars, flecks, or strings that seem to float around before your eyes. Try focusing on one directly, and it appears to dash off. Called eye floaters, these are usually harmless, a by-product of age-related changes. When there’s a marked increase in the number of floaters you see, it could be a symptom of serious vision problems. Make an appointment with The eye care professionals at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care, serving East Brunswick, Toms River, and Morristown, New Jersey, by phone or online as soon as possible.

Eye Floaters Q & A

What are eye floaters?

When you look at a plain, bright background, such as a clear blue sky, you may notice many spots, swirls, or dots in your vision. They may seem like black or gray shapes, surrounded by or surrounding a brighter area. These usually appear to be moving, avoiding your attempts to look at them directly. The motion may accompany your eye movement and, if you hold your vision in one location, the spots seem to settle.

The vitreous, the gelatinous substance inside your eyes, becomes more liquid as you get older. Clumps of fiber within the vitreous cast tiny shadows on your retina, and it’s these shadows that you perceive as eye floaters. There’s no physical sensation accompanying these spots. However, this isn’t the only source of the floaters, and some other causes can indicate serious conditions.

Are there risk factors that affect eye floaters?

Yes. If you’re over the age of 50, it’s likely you’ll see eye floaters. Other risk factors that increase the occurrence of eye floaters include:

  • Eye injuries
  • Complications from eye surgery
  • Nearsightedness
  • Inflammations of eye tissue
  • Complications of diabetes

What are some other causes of eye floaters?

As well as age-related changes, other conditions of the eye create bits of debris that cause the shadows you perceive as eye floaters. These causes include:

  • Bleeding, stemming from injury or problems with blood vessels within the eye
  • Inflammation of the uvea, the layers at the back of the eye, due to infection or inflammatory disease
  • Torn retina, which may lead to detachment if not treated, causing permanent loss of vision

The age-related changes to the eye’s vitreous may contribute to conditions leading to retinal tears and detachment. Regular vision exams may prevent problems through early detection.

How are eye floaters treated?

Age-related eye floaters rarely affect your vision, and there’s usually no reason to treat them since it’s unlikely they’ll interfere with your daily life. It’s rare that floaters cause enough visual impairment on their own to require intervention, though in the case where floaters are a symptom of another eye condition, there may be treatment options for that condition.

Though rarely performed, eye floaters can be disrupted with surgical lasers, or the eye’s vitreous may be replaced with an artificial solution, though this may not remove all floaters or prevent their recurrence.