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Eye floaters

Floaters are tiny spots that you may notice drifting in front of the eyes.

They may be more noticeable on bright days and in well-lit rooms. Some people think they look like clouds, strands, flies or even cobwebs.

Floaters are common and cannot usually be prevented. They may develop as part of normal ageing of the eye.

There may be floaters in the eye that go unnoticed as the brain may compensate for them so we ignore them.

The eyeball is filled with clear jelly (vitreous humour) and floaters are bits of debris in this that cause a shadow over the retina at the back of the eye.

eye floaters

Are floaters a concern?

Floaters are not usually harmful.

Larger floaters can be distracting and may affect concentration when reading or driving.

However, floaters can be serious if they are caused by separation of the vitreous gel from the retina - called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Symptoms also include flashing lights in the vision.

Floater treatment

Eye drops won't remove floaters. In severe cases a procedure to remove the vitreous humour, along with the debris, and refill the eye with an artificial solution may be recommended. This is called a vitrectomy but it is not often done due to risks of eye surgery. The procedure may not be available on the NHS.

White or black spots in the field of vision are not floaters and may be an early warning sign of cataracts or another serious eye problem.

Seek medical advice if you see sudden changes in vision or an increase in the number of floaters.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 27, 2016

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