When to See an Optometrist for Eye Floaters

An eye floater looks like a speck in your vision that moves when you look around. Eye floaters vary in shape and size and usually appear after the age of 50. You’ll usually see your eye floaters when you look at a light-colored, plain wall, or the sky. They may be gray, white, black, or transparent.

Types of Floaters - Toronto Optometrist's Blog

Various things can cause floaters. Some are harmless but others can be serious. You should know the difference.

What Causes Floaters?

The jelly-like substance in the inner eye is called the vitreous humor. This substance begins to clump as we age, and these clumps become floaters. Although floaters are often caused by age, serious health conditions such as retinal detachments or holes, and eye injury can be the reason. If the vitreous humor detaches from the back of the eyes, doctors will diagnose you with a posterior retinal detachment.

Anything that changes the structure of the eyes can cause floaters. The shape of the eye influences the likelihood of getting floaters. For example, myopic (nearsighted) people usually have more floaters because the eyes are lengthened. Lengthening alters the vitreous, and causes more floaters.

Sometimes, but not often, cells and blood vessels present in the vitreous of pre-natal babiesrema in even after birth. These leftovers cause floaters, and may even remain as the child ages.

Are Floaters Serious?

Floaters can be very dangerous. If you are seeing flashes of light or constantly getting more floaters this can mean you have a more serious condition. For example, it may mean that the vitreous humor is pulling on the retina (the tissue that receives images). A
damaged retina can cause vision loss, sometimes permanently.

Will My Doctor Treat Me For Floaters?

It depends. There is no special treatment for floaters unless a serious disease, such as detachment, tear, or a retinal hole, causes them. Floaters can be harmless and your brain will get used to them. But you should check with an eye doctor if:

  • Floaters are interfering with your vision.
  • You notice flashes of light.

If your floaters are caused by a retinal detachment or hole, laser surgery is necessary.

What Should I Do If I Have Floaters?

Make an appointment with your eye doctor if you experience floaters. Usually, eye floaters can be easily found during an eye examination. To diagnose you with floaters, the doctor will go over your history and ask to describe your floaters, including shape and size. He’ll also examine you retina and vitreous fluid through your pupils using a head loupe and lenses. Your eye doctor will determine if you have retinal tears. Whatever the cause of your floaters, it can be diagnosed and treated. People who are diabetic or have had eye surgeries are more vulnerable to floaters, and should see an eye doctor annually.

While it is not possible to prevent eye floaters, caring for your eyes can significantly reduce the risk of developing serious eye conditions.