Experiencing "Eye Floaters"

As you’re reading this, if you notice a tiny fleck or string-like object that appears in your sight and doesn’t seem to go away, don’t worry. Your vision is probably just fine.

Millions of people are affected by those odd-shaped squiggles and spots, commonly known as “eye floaters.” “Floaters” are tiny, shadow-like shapes that continuously appear in your field of vision. Because they move as your eyes do, they’re often difficult to focus on, and seem to dart away when you try.

Generally, floaters are caused by the eye’s gel-like vitreous partially liquefying, which is normal as we age. The small pieces of solid vitreous continue to drift around in the eye, casting shadows on the retina as light passes through. Those shadows (not the actual floating bits) become the odd, semi-transparent objects we see.

Floaters are often most noticeable when focusing on a relatively bright or blank space like a computer screen, white wall, or clear sky. While they can be distracting and annoying, in most instances they are simply a nuisance.

Though people can develop floaters at any age, it is most common to develop them after age 45, and most people develop them by age 70. However, if you have a sudden onset of floaters, or if they are accompanied by flashes of light or vision loss, you should consult your ilumin ophthalmolgist immediately, as these could be signs of retinal detachment or other serious eye conditions.

Be sure to monitor any floaters you have, and make sure they aren’t multiplying or becoming worse. While they usually don’t go away completely, many of them do become less noticeable with time. To be on the safe side, tell your ilumin ophthalmologist about any floaters you have at your next appointment.