The term “floater” refers to the specks, threads, or cobweb-like images that occasionally drift across one’s field of vision. People are often not even aware of their presence until they look at a solid background, such as the sky, and see the odd phenomenon. In most cases, there is no cause for alarm. Floaters occur when the “vitreous humor,” a gel-like substance that fills about four-fifths of the eye and helps it to maintain its round shape, slowly shrinks. As it does, it becomes somewhat stringy. Strands develop that can cast tiny shadows on the retina. In most cases, floaters are just an annoyance. However, if bright flashes or an onset of new floaters occurs, immediate medical attention is advised. If you notice a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters, contact an eye doctor immediately — especially if you also see flashes of light or lose your peripheral vision. These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention. Floaters are more likely to develop with advancing age and are more common in those with nearsightedness and/or diabetes, or those who have undergone cataract surgery.
Sep 26, 2014