Floaters Explained


What are floaters?

Most of the volume of the eye is filled by viscous fluid called vitreous humor. Vitreous is attached to a thin film of nerve tissue in the back of the eye, called retina. In kids this vitreous is completely jelly-like (imagine clear colorless Jell-O). As we age, however, the gel starts becoming more liquid. Parts of the vitreous start contracting and forming whitish strands. We see a shadow of these strands on our retina: dark, either black or gray, lines, spots, webs, or various other shapes. Since we see only shadows of floaters they are more visible in a light environment (against a blue sky, for example). And of course, since the vitreous gel around the floater gets more liquid with age, these strands move around with eye movements.

Are Floaters Harmful?

Floaters are generally not harmful to your vision. However, occasionally, as this vitreous gel, liquefies, and separates from the retina, it pulls of a piece of retina with it creating a retinal tear or hole. Some people may see a flashing light when this happens.

Problems with retina are a serious matter, can lead to loss of vision, and need to be addressed right away. Contact your doctor immedietly if your floaters are accompanied by flashes of light!

Will Floaters Ever Go Away?

Most people once they see floaters for the first time, will continue to see them at least once in a while. Our bodies, however, have a wonderful ability to get used to things. Overtime, your brain will learn to ignore the floaters, and while you will still notice them occasionally, they will not bother you as much.


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Posted in: Flashes, Floaters, Floaters and Flashes, Retina Problems

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