Should you worry if you see something floating through your eyes?

Some patients describe them as small dots. Some say they’re like cobweb patches. Other people say they’re definitely squiggles. But they’re all talking about the same phenomenon, and it can be alarming.

What’s floating through your field of vision?

They’re actually called floaters, and you can notice them when you shift your eyes quickly or stare for an extended time at bright light, such as from a big screen TV or white board at school or in a meeting. Many patients say they first notice something floating across the horizon on a long daytime car trip. Floaters can be distracting and annoying, but most people rarely notice them.

What causes floaters?

eye floatersThe eye’s vitreous is the gel-like fluid that fills the inside and is anchored to the back of the eye. But as we age, it may shrink and pull away from the inside surface of the eye, causing clumps or strands of connective tissue to become lodged in the gel.

Those strands and clumps cast shadows on the retina, which appear as specks, dots, clouds or spider webs in your field of vision.

We can have floaters at any age

While they can be more common as we age, floaters can appear if you’re nearsighted. You could also be more likely to have floaters, regardless of your age, if you’ve had a head injury or eye surgery.

They’re usually harmless

You should tell your eye doctor about them, especially if you notice that you’ve developed a new one. He can make sure that you haven’t experienced something serious, such as a retinal tear or detachment. This condition may be perceived as lightning-like flashes or a strobe light to the side of your vision. Otherwise, there’s no danger from or treatment for “normal” floaters, and luckily, they usually fade over time.

See your eye doctor within 24 to 48 hours

If you have a new floater, or if you:

  • Experience a sudden “storm” of floaters
  • See a gray curtain or shadow move across your field of vision
  • Have a sudden decrease in vision

Call (352)237-8400 or toll-free (800)521-6028.


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