What are Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters are small shadows or shapes that float through your field of vision. Typically eye floaters aren’t readily apparent or appear worse when it’s extremely bright. Eye floaters look like different shaped floating shadows or fuzz in your field of vision. Because they float freely throughout your eye, it’s generally difficult to actually look directly at an eye floater.

Eye floaters are microscopic pieces of tissue from your vitreous, which is the gel-like portion of your inner eye. As you age these tiny pieces of collagen break down and float freely through your vitreous, with the larger floaters casting shadows on your retina.

Symptoms of Eye Floaters

Just like the name says, eye floaters drift around in the gel-like substance of your eyes. Except for larger pieces, and situations with excessive light, eye floaters aren’t usually very noticeable. Eye floaters can look like light or dark spots, and for the most part will be one of the following shapes:

  • Spots
  • Squiggly Lines
  • Thread-Like Strands
  • Cobwebs
  • Rings

In some situations, people with eye floaters will experience quick bright flashes of light towards the edge of their vision coinciding with an increase in the number of eye floaters. If you’ve experienced these symptoms, contact your eye doctor or optometrist immediately, as they could mean you have a retinal detachment.

Eye Floaters Treatment

For the most part, eye floaters are left untreated. Eye floaters pose no serious health concerns as long as they don’t significantly compromise your vision. Most people are unaware that they have eye floaters, or learn to live with them, although in rare cases floaters can substantially impair a person’s eyesight.

In these rare situations, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy is performed to improve a patient’s vision. During a vitrectomy, an eye surgeon physically removes the vitreous gel containing a person’s eye floaters and replaces it with a saltwater solution. The solution is very similar in consistency, and the eye patient can’t tell the difference.

A vitrectomy is a risky procedure and the likelihood of complications from eye surgery is high. For these reasons, surgery is only recommended in more extreme scenarios.