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Understanding and Managing Bothersome Eye Floaters

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Most people experience harmless eye floaters from time to time - tiny transverse specks or cobweb-like shapes drifting within the eye. But those obscuring vision or interfering with daily tasks deserve evaluation from your optometrist. Here's an overview on floaters:


Causes - Floaters commonly arise when vitreous humor, the clear gel filling the eyeball, slightly liquefies with age. Clumped proteins within cast shadows onto the retina.


Symptoms - In addition to moving spots, floaters may resemble flies, threads or shadows. They tend appear more pronounced in bright environments.


Risk Factors - Age, prior eye procedures, refractive surgeries, eye trauma history and genetic predisposition can heighten risks.


Self-Care - No treatment exists for benign floaters as they typically don't impair health. Use illumination changes, blinking and repositioning focus to help ignore them.


Medical Management - Rarely, rapidly worsening or dense floaters may signal vitreous detachments from aging gel shrinkage potentially leading to retinal tears if left untreated. Same-day comprehensive exams are important in these cases.


Surgical Options - In extreme instances where floaters severely hamper quality of life despite attempts at habituation, vitrectomy surgery optometrists may perform removes the vitreous gel to prevent further worsening. However, this risks cataract formation.


With harmless floaters, patience and disregarding usually result in adaptation. But floaters presenting suddenly or accompanied by flashes, curtaining vision or medical history red flags warrant prompt doctor evaluation to rule out potentially vision-threatening conditions treated surgically if needed. Ignoring concerning changes potentially risks permanent visual impairment, so seek care to manage floaters proactively.


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