Learning More About: Eye Floaters

What is an eye floater? What causes them, and how are eye floaters treated?

Eye Floaters: An Overview

Eye Floaters

An "eye floater" is actually a "slang" term to describe tiny strings of internal matter "floating" within the eyeball. These appear in the visual field as hard-to-see web-like strands, wavy lines or strings.

Eye floaters are naturally-occurring within the eyeball. As we age, the gel inside the eyeball shrinks over time and tears away. These tiny, string-like strands appear in your field of vision as eye floaters.

In general, an eye floater is a mild nuisance more than anything else, a natural side effect of aging. However, significant amounts of eye floaters may indicate an injury to the eye, an infection or inflammation of the eye, even a partial or complete retinal detachment.

Persons who are extremely nearsighted, have diabetes, or have had cataract surgery are also more likely to report eye floaters.

Eye Floater Symptoms:

Eye floaters appear as gauzy, web-like lines and shapes that seem to "float" across the field of vision. Move your eyeball, and an eye floater moves with it, often continuing to glide slightly when you stop your eyeball.

Eye floaters can be slightly annoying, especially when looking at bright fields of color. It’s important to remember that floaters actually occur inside the eyeball, though they may appear (visually) to be on the surface of the eye.

A sudden appearance of many eye floaters can signify a more serious underlying condition, such as an infection or inflammation. And if floaters appear suddenly along with light sensitivity, light flashes, or a loss in peripheral vision, you may have damage to your retina that requires immediate medical attention.

Eye Floater Treatment:

The most common eye floaters treatment is no treatment at all – people tend to adjust to their presence in the visual field and learn to virtually ignore them.

In some instances of serious clusters of floaters, surgery may be necessary though this is very rarely necessary.

The information seen here is for reference purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose or prescribe any specific treatment(s). For all questions and concerns about your vision, eye health and potential eye problems, please consult an eyecare professional.

Special thanks to the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, for source material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the NEI/NIH website.

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