What are eye floaters?

What are eye floaters?

Have you seen dots, squiggles, cobwebs, strings or blobs in your vision recently? You may be experiencing eye floaters. While common, it could be a sign of retinal damage.

Eye floaters can appear in many different shapes and are usually not stationary in your vision, so they move a little as you look around. They usually become more apparent depending on the background you’re looking at. Floaters commonly appear when looking at a cloudy sky, white walls and excel spreadsheets because of the contrast in appearance.

If eye floaters are so common, how do they form?

“We get floaters when there are tiny particles floating around in the eyeball and cast a shadow onto your retina, which is the back wall of your eye you use to see with,” says Dr. Michael Zoelle, an optometrist at Aurora Health Care.

While anyone can get floaters, blunt trauma, or eye surgeries could be a likely cause. Additionally, as you mature in age you are more likely to notice floaters.

There are two types of floaters, translucent – the most common, and black and bold.

“The more translucent types are from the jelly substance in your eye naturally breaking down,” says Dr. Zoelle. “As the jelly breaks down in your eye and gets recycled, it clumps up which could cause fiber-like floaters in your vision.”

The black and bolder floaters can be more concerning. They can be a sign of damage to the retina itself like a retinal hole or tear.

While floaters are mostly harmless, it’s important to get any new eye floaters checked by a professional to ensure there is not retinal damage. “A retinal tear or detachment can cause permanent vision loss or blindness,” says Dr. Zoelle. “While there is not much we can do for floaters themselves, we can repair underlying retinal damage.”

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.