Eye floaters is the term used to describe small dark spots or shapes that can often appear in your vision. Normally these floaters are in the shape of shadowy specks, strings or squiggly lines and drift sporadically around your vision. These shapes are extremely common, though if you have experienced recent onset or notice an increase in any way you should have an eye examination straight away.
Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes in the eye and are made of small fragments of collagen or protein which form in the eyes vitreous humour, a jelly-like substance in the middle of the eye. The most recognisable symptoms are thin strands or dark spots that appear to ‘float’ across your field of vision. There is no pain associated with eye floaters and many people can see more than one at any time. They are more readily seen when looking at a light plain coloured background.
On very rare occasions, some people experience a change in presence of eye floaters caused by a tear or detachment of the retina. In this circumstance, the number of floaters suddenly increase or come together into larger dark spots that can cloud your vision. If you experience a sudden increase or change in floaters, in the presence or absence of a shower of flashing lights it is important that you contact your eye care specialist straight away and have your eyes examined that same day where at all possible.
Treatment for floaters is normally not necessary. They are usually harmless and in most cases present no threat to your vision.
Normally your brain will learn to ignore floaters, but larger ones can be distracting and can affect your vision.
YAG Laser treatment (Viterolysis) can be used to break up floaters and move them towards the edges of your eye.
If floaters are significantly affecting your vision and don't clear up on their own, a type of surgery called a vitrectomy can be carried out. The procedure involves replacing the gel-like liquid in your eye with saline solution. This can help to eliminate any floaters that you may have.