About Floaters

Floaters are tiny, small dark specks or spots that float around in the field of vision. They move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. They usually drift when you hold your eyes still. Most people have floaters and learn to ignore them. A person with floaters usually doesn't notice them until the floaters are large or numerous.

Floaters happen when a part of the eye called the vitreous slowly shrinks. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that helps it maintain a round shape. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes stringy, and the strands that form can cast tiny shadows on the retina, the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye. These shadows can appear as floaters, and in most cases, it is a normal part of aging and not a serious, albeit annoying, problem.

However, there are other, more serious causes of floaters. These include infection, inflammation (uveitis), hemorrhaging, retinal tears, and injury to the eye.

In a severe case, floaters might signify a retinal detachment. In a retinal detachment, part of the retina is torn and pulled away from its normal position at the back wall of the eye. This can cause a sudden increase in floaters that might come with light flashes or peripheral (side) vision loss.

Risk Factors

Floaters are more likely to develop as a person ages. They are more common in very nearsighted people, people with diabetes, or who have had cataract surgery.

Treatments We Offer

If floaters are not that bothersome, then no treatment is needed. But sometimes floaters can be so dense and numerous that they significantly obscure vision, and vitrectomy surgery might be warranted.

Vitrectomy surgery removes floaters along with the vitreous gel. During surgery, the vitreous is removed and replaced with a salt solution. In less than two days, the body returns the salt solution with natural fluids, called the aqueous humor. Because the original vitreous is mostly water, the person will not notice any change between the aqueous liquid and the original vitreous.

Why Choose Columbia?

Columbia ophthalmologists are experts in treating retinal disorders. Our specialists and subspecialists will ensure you receive the most comprehensive and compassionate treatment.