Eye floater is a term used to describe the tiny black or gray shapes that appear in your field of vision. Floaters can be especially noticeable when you are looking at something bright like a clear blue sky or a whiteboard.
For the most part, eye floaters are perfectly normal. However, floaters can also be a symptom of a serious eye condition. It’s important to understand what floaters are, how they are caused and when you need to discuss the floaters you are seeing with your eye doctor.
What are Eye Floaters
A large part of the eye is filled with a clear jelly-like substance called vitreous humor. Dispersed throughout the vitreous humor are millions of microscopic protein fibers called collagen.
As we age, the consistency of the vitreous humor becomes more liquefied which allows the tiny collagen fibers to stick together creating small debris particles. These tiny particles block light entering the eye and cast a shadow on the retina causing you to see an eye floater.
Floaters will appear in many sizes and shapes including:
- Thread-like strands
- Squiggly lines
When you see a floater and try to focus on it, the floater will generally move away rapidly.
When Floaters Are a Sign of Serious Eye Conditions
During regularly scheduled eye exams, you should discuss any eye floaters you may be seeing with your eye care professional. It’s a topic that he or she wants to know about.
Sometimes, eye floaters can be a sign of serious eye conditions such as:
- Retinal tear
- Retinal detachment
- Internal bleeding of the eye
If the frequency of eye floaters appears to increase suddenly or if eye floaters are accompanied by flashes of light, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.
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