What Are Floaters?

What Are Floaters?Have you ever seen a squiggly line or a bright white floater in your field of vision? You may be experiencing floaters. Perhaps you see specks, dots, or little “cobwebs” that float around in your field of vision. These small, shadowy shapes also sometimes look like thready strands or squiggly lines. They move when your eyes move and appear to move away when you try to look at them directly. When your eyes stop moving, they usually drift. They may appear to be in front of your eye, but actually they are floating inside.

Causes of Floaters

Most floaters are small flecks of protein called collagen. They are part of the gel-like substance in the back of the eye called the vitreous. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that helps your eye maintain a round shape actually shrinks with age. When the vitreous shrinks, it becomes stringy and the resulting strands cast little shadows on the retina, which are commonly known as floaters.

For most people, floaters happen with age. About one-quarter of people in their 60s and about two-thirds of people in their 80s have floaters. Also, people who have had cataract surgery, an eye injury and those who are diabetic or nearsighted are more likely to have floaters.

Floaters are typically common and often increase with age. If your floaters are merely annoying, doctors advise moving your eyes up and down, or left and right, to move a floater.. If floaters appear suddenly or become more frequent, it can be a sign of a serious eye disorder such as:

  • Detached retina

  • Torn retina

  • Bleeding in your vitreous

  • Inflamed vitreous or retina caused by infection or autoimmune condition

  • Eye tumors

Retinal tears and detachments may be painless, but are serious conditions. If you are concerned about your vision, contact your doctor right away. Hampton Roads Eye Associates of Oyster Point is ready and able to care for all of your visual issues and acute vision needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 757.643.8800. For questions about your floaters or to make an appointment, contact us.