Understanding Eye Floaters: What They Are and When to Seek Help

Jul 1, 2023 | Eye Health Info

Have you ever noticed small, squiggly shapes drifting across your vision? These are called eye floaters! While they are usually harmless, some people may become worried, especially if they suddenly appear or come with other vision issues. In this blog, we will explore what eye floaters are, what causes them, and when to seek help. 

What are eye floaters?

Eye floaters are small, semi-transparent specks or particles that appear to float across the field of vision. They can look like cobwebs, circles, lines, or small dots. They are most noticeable when looking at a plain, bright background, such as a clear blue sky or a white wall. 

It might seem like these floaters are in front of your eyes, but they’re actually inside your eyes! They are made up of protein fibers that are part of the vitreous, a clear gel-like substance that fills the space between the lens and the retina in the back of your eye. 

What causes eye floaters? 

Eye floaters often form as a normal part of the aging process. As we age, the vitreous liquefies and can pull away from the retina, causing small clumps of protein fibers to form. These clumps cast shadows on the retina, which we see as floaters. 

Other factors that can increase your likelihood of eye floaters include:  

  • Eye injuries 
  • Eye surgeries 
  • Diabetes 
  • Eye inflammation 
  • Nearsightedness 
  • Eye tumors 

When to seek help 

While most eye floaters are harmless, they can be a sign of a more serious problem. You should seek medical attention if you experience any of the following: 

  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters 
  • Flashes of light 
  • Loss of peripheral vision 
  • A shadow or curtain in your field of vision 
  • Pain in the eye 
  • Redness in the eye 

If you notice a sudden increase in eye floaters as well as flashes of light, visit an eye doctor who provides emergency eye care or an emergency room right away. These symptoms could be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment, which is a medical emergency. If left untreated, a retinal tear or detachment can lead to permanent vision loss. 

Even though eye floaters are usually harmless, it’s important to pay attention to any vision changes and to see an eye doctor if you have any concerns. If you’re concerned about eye floaters, contact our office in Watertown today to schedule an appointment!