What are Floaters?

Floaters are a very common visual complaint. Most of the time, they are completely harmless, although they can be a sign of more serious eye problems, such as retinal tears or detachments.

Most floaters are due to small defects that appear within the vitreous part of the eye. The vitreous, or vitreous humor, is a thick, jelly-like substance that fills the eye. Sometimes, some of the collagen in the back of the eye can become detached from the body of the eye, and then break down and end up as floaters. Floaters can also be leftover remnants from the fetal stage of development.

In most cases, floaters are nothing to be overly concerned about. However, if lots of floaters appear suddenly, or if they are accompanied by flashes or one large, "ring-shaped" floater, please contact your eye care professional or emergency room immediately, as this may be a sign or a retinal tear or detachment.

How are Floaters treated?

There really is no good treatment for floaters. If you find that a floater gets in your way, simply looking away might shift the floater enough so that it doesn't bother you any more. Look quickly up and down a few times (which works better than looking side to side).

If a patient finds that their floaters are unbearably bad, a procedure called a vitrectomy can be performed. During this procedure, the vitreous fluid (the jelly-like substance that fills the eye) which contains the floaters is removed and is subsequently replaced with a salt solution. The risk of this procedure causing dangerous side effects, including retinal detachment, retinal tears, cataracts, and even blindness, is high, and so this procedure is generally only performed as a last resort.

If you are experiencing sudden onset of floaters, or notice that you are experiencing a lot more floaters than normal,
call our office and we will work you into the schedule as fast as possible! 775-7873939