Eye floaters are spots in vision. They may look to you like black or gray specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when you move eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly. Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside eyes becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on retina, which appear to you as floaters. If you notice a sudden increase in eye floaters, contact an eye specialist immediately — especially if you also see light flashes or lose peripheral vision. These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention.
Symptoms of eye floaters may include:
• Spots in vision that appear as dark specks or knobby, transparent strings of floating material
• Spots that move when you move eyes, so when you try to look at them, they move quickly out of visual field
• Spots that are most noticeable when you look at a plain bright background, such as a blue sky or a white wall
• Spots that eventually settle down and drift out of the line of vision
Most eye floaters don't require treatment Eye floaters can be frustrating, and adjusting to them can take time. However, you may eventually be able to ignore them or notice them less often. Treatments for floaters that impair vision If eye floaters impair vision, which happens rarely, you and eye doctor may consider treatment. Options may include:
• Using a laser to disrupt the floaters. An ophthalmologist aims a special laser at the floaters in the vitreous, which may break them up and make them less noticeable. Some people who have this treatment report improved vision; others notice little or no difference. Risks of laser therapy include damage to retina if the laser is aimed incorrectly. Laser surgery to treat floaters is used infrequently.
• Using surgery to remove the vitreous. An ophthalmologist removes the vitreous through a small incision and replaces it with a solution to help eye maintain its shape. Surgery may not remove all the floaters, and new floaters can develop after surgery. Risks of vitrectomy include bleeding and retinal tears.