If you’ve ever seen spots, blots, specks or lines that appear to be floating in your field of vision, you’ve likely experienced eye floaters. But what exactly are eye floaters and what causes them? And are they dangerous to your vision?  

For the most part, the presence of eye floaters doesn’t constitute a medical emergency, but it’s always a good idea to have them checked out by your eye care professional. Here’s everything you need to know about floaters.

 

What makes floaters appear? 

Dr. Carlsson explains that floaters are “just genetic: it’s the way eyeballs are made.” In fact, you might be born with floaters. 

The framework of the innermost part of the eye is a gel-like consistency and is called the vitreous. “It’s made of collagen, and as we age, it starts to liquefy and break down,” and may appear as though it’s floating in your vision, says Dr. Carlsson, who first experienced floaters when looking into a microscope during microbiology class. “I saw these crazy things like transparent worms floating around, and I thought, is that on my slide? They were actually my eye floaters.” 

Should I see an eye doctor for floaters? 

Because eye floaters can be a symptom of a more severe condition in your retina (the layer in the back of the eyeball that senses light and sends images to your brain), Dr. Carlsson recommends having your optometrist or opthamologist check them out. 

If eye floaters come on suddenly and especially if they are accompanied by flashes of light or a sudden change in your vision, try to be seen immediately. These could be symptoms of a retinal tear or retinal detachment, both of which are serious and vision-threatening. “When it comes to retinal detachment, you can lose your vision within 24 hours,” he explains. 

Are you seeing floaters without flashes or a sudden loss of vision? Don’t panic, but still see your eye doctor to rule out any retinal issues. 

What can be done about floaters? 

Unless the floaters are hindering your lifestyle or ability to carry out important responsibilities or perform at work, there’s no real need to do anything to correct eye floaters. 

“The brain learns to ignore them,” Dr. Carlsson says. 

Are eye floaters having an impact on your daily life or do you have floaters accompanied by a sudden change in vision? Schedule an appointment to have them checked out at Carlsson Family Eye Center.