Eye floaters are spots in the vision that can look like cobwebs, dots or lines that take on various shapes or flies. Hence they are also called “muscae volitantes”, or Latin for “flying flies”. They tend to move or float in the vision.
Floaters are common with increasing age and tend to be harmless. They can sometimes interfere with vision, and affect one’s daily quality of life. Occasionally, eye floaters can be a sign of more worrying eye disease that can lead to permanent loss of sight.
See an eye doctor immediately if you notice one or more of the following:
Any of the above symptoms can indicate a retinal tear or retinal detachment, which could lead to permanent blindness.
If you have persistent eye floaters that have not changed but interfere with the clarity or quality of vision, see one of our retinal surgeons to establish a diagnosis, and understand the treatment options that may be available to improve your sight.
In the eye there is a gel-like structure called the vitreous. At birth, the vitreous is completely clear and transparent. It is also fully attached to the retina, the delicate layer of cells at the back of the eye that captures external light, sending it to the brain, enabling sight.
Floaters are caused by changes to the vitreous gel, due to:
This really depends on the reason eye floaters have developed. The commonest cause is the normal ageing change of the vitreous gel, which is not dangerous.
However, there other causes that can lead to permanent loss of sight, sometimes within 24 hours, due to a retinal tear or retinal detachment.
Vitrectomy surgery can effectively clear the majority, if not all floaters. The occasional floater can remain.
At OCL, 98% of patients experience improvement in eye floater symptoms after vitrectomy, with the majority also achieving better clarity.
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