What Are Eye Floaters?

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When you see little spots in your field of vision that seem to be moving, those are called eye floaters. In most cases, they are just mildly annoying and don't actually get in the way of seeing properly. However in some cases, they are actually warning you about an eye condition that needs to be treated. Here is more information about eye floaters and what you can do about them.

Are eye floaters serious?

In most cases eye floaters are temporary and minor. They are usually nothing more than a mild annoyance, but will be gone before you know it. However, there are some situations where it could be something serious, prompting a visit to your optometrist. If you have had the eye floaters for an extended period of time and instead of going away, they seem to be multiplying, that is a good reason to visit an eye doctor (such as one from Harpers Point Eye). You should also visit the doctor if they are affecting your line of vision, or if you see bright flashes of light.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of an eye floater is seeing tiny spots in your vision that seem to dart when you try to focus on them. They almost always move when your eyes move. They may appear like gray or black dots, or squiggly lines, though it is often hard to see exactly what they look like. In some cases, they are ring-shaped or appear like cobwebs. You should not experience other symptoms, such as eye redness or irritation. If you do, they are the result of another medical condition and you should see your eye doctor.

What causes eye floaters?

The most common cause of eye floaters is due to a protein called collagen. This substance occurs naturally behind the eye in the vitreous humor. As you begin to age, the collagen fibers can start to shrink and shred. These shreds start accumulating in the vitreous. As they do this, the light hitting the retina will change slightly, and can cause the symptoms associated with eye floaters. While you can get eye floaters at any age, they are more common with older adults.

Eye floaters are not usually serious, but if they are starting to worsen over time, don't hesitate to see your doctor. They will perform an eye exam to be sure you don't have cataracts or other eye conditions, then assess you to see if you have medical conditions causing the eye floaters.