Ever notice floaters in your eyes? We answer all your floater FAQs!
Ever notice particles or debris in your field of vision? This are vitreous floaters (better known as eye floaters). In this blog post, we’ll explain a little bit more about this phenomenon—and why floaters are perceptible to our eyes.
Are you seeing eye floaters?
Eye floaters are those little spots in your line of sight that look like debris. Their scientific term is called “muscae volitantes” which is Latin for “flying flies”, which accurately describes this condition. If you’re seeing eye floaters, you may think you have some dust in your eye, but this is something that’s happening behind the scenes—eye floaters come from inside your eye.
While eye floaters manifest different in every pair of eyes, for the most part, people reportedly see the same thing: grey dots, cobwebs, squiggly lines—in some cases, they can even look like concentric rings. Not sure if what you’re seeing is an eye floater? Try looking at a bare wall or the blue sky on a clear day. If little specks start to dance across your eyes, then you may be afflicted with them as they tend to stand out more against a solid colour background.
Here’s what causes eye floaters
Eye floaters are typically the result of age-related changes that occur in the eye’s vitreous body. The vitreous body is a clear gel that occupies the space between the lens and retina, making up about 80% of the eye itself. You might sometimes see it referred to as the vitreous humour or even just the “vitreous”. It helps the eye maintain its spherical shape.
Your vitreous body is an important part of sight and plays an important role in the function of vision. But, with age, its functionality diminishes because the gel starts to shrink (usually between the ages of 50 to 75) meaning that by the time we’ve reached our 40s, eye floaters become quite common. When this happens, the fibres of the vitreous gel clump up. This forms tiny fibres which cast tiny shadows onto the retina. So, what you’re seeing is not an actual substance floating across your eye—you’re seeing the shadow of these fibres and clumps.
Some eye floater treatments currently available
If you’re living with eye floaters, there are some steps you can take to help calm the symptoms. For example, some people may believe they are able to flush out eye floaters with eye drops. While using such drops might provide a cooling effect or temporary relief to itchy eyes, there’s nothing they can to get rid of eye floaters. If you notice that those pesky eye floaters are starting to get too annoying or are obstructing your vision in an obvious way, there are treatment options that you can pursue.
In some cases, a procedure called a vitrectomy may be able to help. Another option is waiting: eye floaters, if innocuous enough, can disappear after a period of approximately six months.
Natural remedies and homeopathic treatments
While there’s conflicting evidence, some do say that there are ways to get rid of eye floaters without medical intervention.
- Massaging your temples or eye exercises: by generating heat you can help remedy the eye floaters in your eyes. Similarly, “eye exercises,” like rotating your eyes around in circles. Doing so may help stave off some stubborn floaters.
- Cutting back on screen time: it’s been said that screen time (overusing your smartphone or computer, for example) might contribute to an increase in eye floaters.
- Eating anti-oxidant rich foods: Foods high in anti-oxidants are said to combat free radical damage (free radicals are atoms and molecules that can cause damage to parts of cells like proteins, DNA, and cell membranes). It’s said that by eating a diet rich in foods like blueberries, kale, oranges, or strawberries you can help remedy eye floaters.
- And taurine-rich foods, too: Foods like meat and seafood contain something called taurine (an amino acid found in animal tissue). Whether you take it in supplement-form or consume it with taurine-dense food, this nutrient may help with your eye floaters. Taurine is often found in energy drinks—but many health professionals say that this isn’t the best way to get taurine, as these types of drinks aren’t the healthiest option.
Your best bet is to speak to an eye care professional before determining which course of action is best for you and your case of eye floaters.
When to worry about eye floaters
Eye floaters are, for the most part, harmless. But, if you’re under the age of 16, and you’ve got obstructive eye floaters then you might want to pay a visit to an eye doctor to get them checked out as they aren’t too common in younger, healthy eyes.
When to see the eye doctor
Sometimes, eye floaters may be harmless but in other instances they can be telling of more serious issues at hand.
- Retinal tears and detachment: Eye floaters may signal retinal detachment, perhaps one of the biggest concerns linked to floaters and flashes that won’t go away. Retinal detachment can lead to significant damage, so you’ll want to get this checked out as soon as you possibly can.
- Sarcoidosis: This inflammatory disease can affect many organs, including our eyes. Sarcoidosis triggers heightened immunity, which then damages the body’s tissue. So, if sarcoidosis is present, it can target the eyes, showing up in different ways such as dry eyes, burning, blurry vision, or eye floaters.
- Tuberculosis: Though tuberculosis is rare, it can cause a variety of symptoms which do include eye floaters, and a host of others like irritation, floaters, or flashes.
- Diabetic retinopathy: New floaters found in the eye can be related to either a retinal detachment but may also be symptoms of a condition called diabetic retinopathy.
These are just some deeper concerns that your eye floaters may be telling you. If you notice that your eye floaters are persisting, or if you have eye floaters accompanied by other types of conditions (such as migraines) then talk to your eye doctor.
Am I still a candidate for LASIK even if I have eye floaters?
Yes! Eye floaters won’t get in the way of you getting LASIK. However, if you’re planning on getting a vision correction procedure, you should know that doing so will not remove or get rid of eye floaters (although it is designed to give you clear vision!)
There you have it. Now that you know a little more about eye floaters, do you find yourself affected by their appearance? Seek out the expertise of an eye care professional. They’ll help you come to a solution for your eye floaters.