Eye Floaters

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What are eye floaters?

"Eye floaters" are deposits or condensation in the vitreous jelly of the eye. People use the term eye floaters to describe seeing floating spots within their vision when they look around. Eye floaters may be present in only one eye or both eyes.

Why do people notice eye floaters?

The structures in the front of the eye (the cornea and lens) focus rays of light onto the retina. Light focused onto the retina allows one to see. The light going to the retina passes through the vitreous humor, which is a jellylike material that occupies the back two-thirds of the eye. At birth and during childhood years, the vitreous gel is usually totally clear. Later in life, strands, deposits, or liquid pockets may develop within the vitreous jelly. Each of these strands casts a small shadow onto the surface of the retina, and these shadows may be perceived by the patient as eye floaters. As the eye moves from side to side or up and down, these strands, deposits, or pockets also shift in position within the eye, making the shadows move and appear to float or undulate.

What do eye floaters look like?

People describe eye floaters as spots, straight and curved lines, strings, or "O" or "C" shaped blobs. Some people see a single floater while others may think they see hundreds. The lines may be thick or thin, and they sometimes appear to be branched. To most people, they appear grey and darker in color than the background. The density of different eye floaters will vary within an individual eye. Eye floaters may be more noticeable under certain lighting conditions and be more apparent when looking at a bright sky. Floaters are rarely seen in situations with reduced illumination.

Like fingerprints, no two people have exactly identical patterns of eye floaters. If a person has eye floaters in both eyes, the pattern of the eye floaters in each eye will be different. In any eye that has eye floaters, that pattern of eye floaters may also change over time.

Eye floaters always appear darker than the background and cannot be seen in darkness or with the eyes closed. This is unlike flashes, which often are seen in the dark and with your eyes closed.


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Floaters - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with floaters.
Floaters - Causes Question: What was the cause of your eye floaters?
Floaters - What They Look Like Question: Describe how your floater first appeared, and what it looked like.
Floaters - How Common? Question: At what age did your floater first appear? How often have you gotten a floater(s)?
Floaters - Eye Diseases Question: Do you have an eye disease associated with floaters? Was the floater a symptom of the eye condition or disease?
Floaters - Disappearance Question: Did your eye floater go away? If so, how long did it take? Please share your story.
Floaters - Surgery Question: Did you have surgery to remove floaters? Please share your experience.

Seeing Spots?

Spots in front of the eyes: Also known as "floaters", blurry spots that drift in front of the eyes but do not block vision. The blur is the result of debris from the vitreous casting a shadow on the retina. The spot is the image formed by a deposit of protein drifting about in the vitreous, the clear jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye.

Floaters are often described by patients as spots, strands, or little flies. Some patients even want to use a fly-swatter to eliminate these pesky floaters.

Floaters are usually benign (not serious). They can result from a separation of the vitreous gel from the retina. This condition is called a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Although a PVD occurs commonly, there are no retinal tears associated with the condition most of the time.

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