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Eye Floaters - What Causes Them?

Reviewed by
Dr. Sunandini Bose 89% (10 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Ophthalmology
Ophthalmologist, Delhi  •  8 years experience
Eye Floaters - What Causes Them?

The spots which occur in the vision are known as eye floaters. One might feel specks of gray and black or cobwebs and strings drifting in the eyes and the same darts away on staring at them directly. The most common cause of eye floaters is age-related. This happens when the vitreous's, the jelly-like substance of the eye becomes very liquid. The fibers within the vitreous clump to form small shadows on the retina. This gives it an appearance of floaters.

Symptoms of eye floaters include:

1. Spots in the vision which appear as knobby or dark specs and strings that are transparent float in the eye
2. Spots which move when the eyes are moved and when one tries to look at them these spots quickly move away from the field of vision
3. Spots that are noticed most when looking at plain backgrounds like a white wall or blue sky
4. Spots which settle and drift put slowly from the vision

Causes Of eye floaters are:

Age-related: The most common cause of eye floaters is the age-related changes in the vitreous. Vitreous is a jelly-like substance which fills the eyeballs and help it to maintain the round shape. With age, the vitreous liquefies partially and this causes it to be pulled away from the interior surface of the eyeball. As the vitreous sags and shrinks, it becomes stringy and clumpy. When the vitreous gets clumpy then small debris block the light which passes through the eye and casts shadows on the retina.

Inflammation at the back of the eye: The inflammation of the layers of the uvea in the back region of the eye is called posterior uveitis. This can give rise to eye floaters. Posterior uveitis is usually caused by inflammatory disease or infections.

Bleeding in the eye: Bleeding of the eye in the vitreous can have any cause associated with it. Some might be an injury or the problems of the blood vessel.

Torn retina: Tearing of the retina occurs when the sagging vitreous applies pressure on the retina and ends up tearing it. If treatment not given then the retinal tear might lead to the detachment of the retina and accumulation of fluid behind the retina. This causes the retina to separate from the eye. If not treated it might also lead to permanent vision loss.

Treatment of Eye Floaters

Eye floaters are very frustrating and might take time to adjust to them. However, with time one might start ignoring them and noticing them less.

Eye floaters which lead to impaired vision might need laser to disrupt the floaters or surgery to remove the vitreous.

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