Eye floaters: What are the possible causes?

Eye floaters are miniature dots or cords floating into the field of vision. Even though it can be an annoyance, eye floaters should not trigger any discomfort or pain.

The floater might arise as gray or black dots, blobs, cobwebs or lines. Seldom, a big floater might create a shadow over the vision that results to a large, darkened spot in vision. Since the floaters are within the fluid of the eye, they move as the eyes move.

In most cases, the floaters manifest if the individual stares at a plain, bright surface such as the sky, blank paper or reflective object. It might be present in only one eye or in both.

What are the causes?


The usual cause are age-related changes that occur in the eye.

The usual cause are age-related changes that occur in the eye. The cornea and lens at the anterior part of the eye focus light onto the retina at the rear part. As light moves from the front to the back, it passes via the vitreous humor or gel-like substance within the eyeball.

Any changes to the vitreous humor can lead to eye floaters. Remember that this is a common part in aging which is called as vitreous syneresis.

Some of the uncommon causes of eye floaters include:

  • Eye injuries such as being struck by an object or impaired during an accident.
  • Visual aura of a migraine headache
  • Inflammation which is often due to infection
  • Nearsightedness
  • Intraocular tumors
  • Deposits of crystals that form in the vitreous and disrupt with the passage of light
  • Diabetic retinopathy

By the age of 50, eye floaters become common. At the age of 70 and beyond, most have experience floaters at least once.

Management of eye floaters

In most cases of eye floaters, treatment is not necessary. They are often a nuisance among otherwise healthy individuals and rarely an indication of a serious condition.

If a floater is briefly blocking the vision, the individual should roll his/her eyes from side to side and up and down to move the debris. Once the fluid in the eye shifts, the floaters also move.

Nevertheless, eye floaters can disrupt with vision particularly if the underlying ailment worsens. The floaters might become troublesome and frequent that it is difficult to see. Once this occurs, the doctor might suggest treatment via laser removal or surgery.


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