Eye floaters


Eye floaters are small shapes or dots that become noticeable when you gaze at a clear sky, an empty piece of paper, or a white wall. They often move around as your eyes shift, and when you attempt to focus on them directly, they often seem to dart away.

The majority of eye floaters originate from age-related transformations in the vitreous, a gel-like substance within your eyes that undergoes liquefaction and contraction. These changes lead to the formation of dispersed clusters of collagen fibers within the vitreous, which can generate shadows on the retina. These shadows are what we refer to as floaters.

If you experience a sudden increase in eye floaters, it is essential to immediately reach out to an eye specialist, particularly if you also observe light flashes or encounter vision loss. These symptoms may indicate a medical emergency necessitating urgent attention.


Eye floaters can manifest with the following symptoms:

  • Tiny shapes within your field of vision that resemble dark specks or slender, transparent strings of floating material.
  • Spots that appear to shift as your eyes move, making them elusive to focus on directly.
  • Increased visibility of these spots when you gaze at a plain, well-lit backdrop, such as a blue sky or a white wall.
  • Gradual settling and drifting away of these small shapes or strings from your line of sight.

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact an eye specialist right away:

  • Increased eye floaters
  • Sudden appearance of new floaters
  • Flashes of light in the same eye as the floaters
  • Blurry vision or a gray curtain blocking part of your sight
  • Loss of peripheral vision

These painless symptoms could indicate a retinal tear or detachment, which is a serious eye condition requiring immediate attention.


Eye floaters can result from age-related alterations in the vitreous or from other diseases and conditions, including:

  • Age-Related Changes: The vitreous, a gel-like substance in the eye, can change as you age. It gradually liquefies and contracts, causing it to pull away from the inside of the eye. Collagen fibers within the vitreous can clump together, casting shadows on the retina, which appear as floaters.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation in the back of the eye, known as posterior uveitis, can lead to floaters. This inflammation can be caused by infections, autoimmune disorders, or inflammatory diseases.
  • Bleeding: Vitreous hemorrhage, characterized by the presence of blood cells as floaters, can be triggered by several factors like retinal tears, detachments, diabetes, hypertension, vascular blockages, and trauma. This condition is commonly associated with diabetic retinopathy.
  • Torn Retina: A contracting vitreous can exert force on the retina, potentially leading to retinal tears. Without proper treatment, this can progress to retinal detachment, which can cause permanent vision loss.
  • Eye Surgeries and Medications: Some eye medications, when injected into the vitreous, can create air bubbles that temporarily appear as shadows. Additionally, during certain vitreous and retina surgeries, silicone oil bubbles may be seen as floaters until they are absorbed by the eye.

Risk factors

Risk factors for eye floaters may include:

  • Advanced age, typically over 50 years.
  • Previous eye injuries.
  • Complications from cataract surgery.
  • Diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that causes damage to retinal blood vessels.
  • A family history of retinal tears and detachment.
  • Nearsightedness, characterized by difficulty seeing distant objects.
  • A history of uveitis.