Are Eye Floaters A Bad Sign: A Complete Explanation

Today you’re going to learn everything you need to know about eye floaters. We’ll explain the topic by answering the most common questions. By the end of it, you will be able to easily evaluate when should you worry about eye floaters.

So whether, you have eye floaters and are worried they might be a bad sign, or just curious and want to learn more, I’m confident this post will answer all your questions. Let’s dive in:

What Are Eye Floaters?

We’ll start off by understanding what exactly are eye floaters. Here’s what they look like:

eye floaters
  • Eye floaters are objects that drift around in your field of vision.
  • They look like little worms or fragments of cobwebs that move along with your eye’s movement.
  • Looking at them and focusing directly on them seems impossible.
  • They float slowly in your field of vision.
  • They are most visible when looking at a bright plain background, like the sky or a blank computer screen.
  • Floaters can appear alone or together with others.

Even though eye floaters look like objects in front of your eyes, they are actually inside your eye. Floaters are particles suspended inside your eye and located in the vitreous.

The vitreous is a clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina of your eye. It is responsible for keeping the round shape of your eyeball. Also, it helps the lens of your eyes bend light, and protects the retina from impacts.

vitreous eye floaters

What Causes Eye Floaters?

The most common cause for eye floaters is the vitreous becoming more liquid as we age. This leads to the substance losing its consistency and viscosity, breaking up into smaller pieces.

Those smaller pieces can then block some of the light that enters your eye. As a result, tiny shadows form. So, what you notice as floaters are actually small shadows of those small pieces of vitreous that lost their consistency.

Eye floaters are more common as you get older and if you’re nearsighted (have myopia). Most of the time, they don’t cause any pain. They also usually go away on their own after a few weeks.

Now that you know all about eye floaters’ symptoms and why they occur, how do you know if eye floaters are dangerous? Are eye floaters something to worry about? Here’s the deal:

Are Eye Floaters A Serious Condition?

It depends on the cause. When floaters are caused by the gel inside your eye turning more liquid, they are considered normal and a common symptom of aging.

Eye floaters are actually very common. Most of us have them. Our brain tends to adapt and learn to ignore them. Most people will experience floaters in their vision at some point in their lives. It can happen at any age but usually occurs between ages 40 and 70.

However, there are some less common causes that can only be checked by an eye care professional:

When Should I Worry About Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters are a bad sign when they appear rapidly. Or when there’s a sudden increase in the number of floaters you see.

Please, go see an eye doctor immediately if you notice sudden floaters in one eye. Especially if they are smaller than normal. This is even more important if you also notice one of the following:

  • Eye floaters and flashes.
  • Loss of central or peripheral vision.
  • “Curtains” coming across your peripheral vision.

These are generally a sign of retinal detachment or retinal tear, eye infection, or even bleeding inside the eye. These conditions can lead to blindness if you don’t treat them.

eye floaters
“Normal” eye floaters
are eye floaters a bad sign
Increase in (tiny) floaters
retinal detachment
Retinal detachment

However, for most of us, this is probably not something that you need to worry about. The chance of a retinal detachment developing in the general population is about 1 in 10,000.

If eye floaters are really bothering you, your doctor will diagnose any problems and will likely point you to one of the following treatments:

How Do I Get Rid of Floaters in My Vision?

For some people, floaters can be very problematic. They can affect your daily quality of life a lot. Fortunately, there are a couple of treatment options to remove floaters. Here are the two main possibilities:

Wait and Monitor

The most popular option to get rid of them. In most cases, floaters are simply an annoyance and can be left alone. Generally, they disappear naturally by themselves as your brain learns to adapt and ignore them.

Make sure you monitor them though. Be aware of sudden changes in the number of floaters and their shape. These can be a sign of the more serious problems we talked about earlier.

You may be wondering how long does it take for eye floaters to go away, but the answer depends a lot on the underlying cause. They usually go away gradually as weeks and months go by.

Vitrectomy Surgery

The other option is an operation called a vitrectomy, where doctors remove the vitreous from your eye. This surgery has many uses, one of them is clearing up severe symptoms of floaters.

Interestingly, the vitreous doesn’t seem to have any function after we’re born. It’s only there to help your eye develop when you are still in your mother’s womb.

As to the dangers of this surgery, the risk of complications is pretty low. A solution that your eye produces normally will replace the vitreous, maintaining the shape of your eyeball. Your body will then produce more vitreous that will eventually replace this new solution.

Vitrectomy also treats the more serious causes for eye floaters, like retinal detachment and bleeding in the eye.

Conclusion

There you have it, your ultimate guide to understanding if eye floaters are a sign of anything, what causes eye floaters, and how to get rid of them.

Floaters may be annoying, but in most cases, they are harmless. The reason why they appear is merely a part of aging. Most people cure them naturally simply by waiting. But if it gets bad, surgery is an option.

When are eye floaters a concern? If they appear suddenly or if you see a lot of them. Talk to an eye doctor if this is your case, or if eye floaters are really bothering you in general. They will be able to truly evaluate your eyes and point you in the right direction.

If you still have any questions, leave them in the comments below! We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Hugo Moreira

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Every single article in Myopia Daily is fact-checked to ensure the information is high-quality, medically accurate, and meets industry standards.

I have extremely strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from the most respected sources, including recent scientific research, peer-reviewed medical journals, government agencies, scholarly articles, certified optometry websites, and up-to-date textbooks.

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My passion for promoting eye health in communities around the world fuels me to create content that is factually reviewed not only by the most up-to-date scientific research but also by everyday expertise from my personal experience with being nearsighted since I was a child.