Ocular floaters are small, dark spots or shapes that appear to float across a person's field of vision. They are caused by small clumps of gel or cells that form in the vitreous humor, the clear gel-like substance that fills the eye. Floaters are common, and most people will experience them at some point in their lives.
Floaters can take on a variety of shapes, such as dots, circles, lines, or cobwebs. They may be more noticeable when looking at a plain background, such as a white wall or a clear blue sky. They can be especially annoying when trying to read or work on a computer screen.
Floaters are usually benign and do not require treatment. However, in some cases, floaters can be a sign of a more serious condition such as a retinal detachment, which is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
Risk factors for ocular floaters include:
- Age: as people age, the vitreous humor inside the eye can shrink and clump together, forming floaters.
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Previous eye surgery or injury
Symptoms of ocular floaters include:
- Seeing small, dark shapes floating across the field of vision
- Seeing the floaters more frequently or more prominently in certain lighting conditions
- Difficulty reading or working on a computer screen due to the floaters
Ocular floaters are usually diagnosed by an optometrist during a comprehensive eye exam. In some cases, additional testing may be needed, such as a dilated eye exam or ultrasound to rule out a retinal detachment.
For most people, floaters do not require treatment and will eventually become less noticeable over time. However, if the floaters are particularly bothersome or interfere with daily activities, treatment options such as a vitrectomy, a surgical procedure that removes the vitreous humor and replaces it with a clear solution, may be recommended.
It is important to note that if you experience sudden onset of floaters, flashes of light, or a loss of vision, seek medical attention immediately as it may indicate a retinal detachment or other serious eye condition.