Eye Floaters, symptoms and diagnosis

Eye floaters can be a great annoyance as they cause immense visual disturbance.  Most cases reported are of patients who complain of a few floaters in the line of vision, which are actually not harmful.  However, if the floaters occur occasionally and are more in number and larger in size, then that means that there is some problem happening in the back eye due to some complication in the retina or vitreous.



Self-diagnosis is a possibility in the case of floaters.  Initially, you tend to confuse it as something in the air or inside your eye.  However, floaters are more easily to recognise if you look at a plain surface like a white wall.  An ophthalmologist can diagnose this condition through your description and by dilating you pupil and looking at your retina with the help of an ophthalmoscope.  At times, there are certain patients having eye inflammation because of floaters.


A floater is a string or speck that seen within your line of vision.  They may be either stationary or mobile.  However, a large stationary floater can be extremely annoying, particularly if it affects your central vision.  Most of the times, floaters move along with your eye and over the course of time, they settle towards the bottom of the vitreous, so that they are no longer in your vision.

At times, flashes of light accompany floaters that mean that your retina needs medical attention immediately and you should consult an ophthalmologist who might send you across to a retinal specialist.


The reasons of symptoms

The vitreous gel is located near the central part of the eye, which provides the eye its shape, and floaters are a result of the shrinking of this gel.  The vitreous is attached to the retina and it shrinks upon aging, causing small gel pieces to detach and float about in the liquefied portion of the vitreous. Hence, what you tend to visualise is not the floater, but a shadow of it.

Floaters indicate that some part of the vitreous has separated from the shrinking retina i.e. posterior vitreous detachment, or PVD and this needs medical help.  The shrinking vitreous is attached to the retina and this causes it to pull the retina and cause retinal detachment, which can result in major vision loss.


Floaters do not really require treatment, until and unless there is retinal detachment or tear which would need surgery.  If there are multiple floaters, then that can be rectified by removing and replacing the vitreous with a saline solution through vitrectomy.


If not diagnosed and treated in time, Eye Floaters can aggravate and cause vision problems later. Therefore, as soon as you find the symptoms of Eye Floaters, you should visit the doctor for proper treatment.

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