excerpt from the book Taking Care
of Your Eyes.
Floaters are translucent specks that seem to float about in
your field of vision. Most people have some floaters normally,
but they usually do not notice them until they become numerous
or more prominent.
like cobwebs or squiggly lines or floating bugs, floaters
become apparent when you look at something evenly bright,
such as white paper or a blue sky, and are more evident when
you move your eyes. They are especially noticeable on looking
through an optical instrument, such as a microscope or binoculars.
They are more common and seem to be more annoying to people
who are nearsighted or who have had a cataract operation.
Are These Floating Specks?
of the interior of the human eyeball is filled with vitreous
gel (also called the vitreous), a clear, thick substance that
helps in maintaining the eye's round shape. Light passes through
the vitreous (after being focused by the cornea and lens)
to reach the retina, where images are formed. Any bits of
tissue in the vitreous cast shadows onto the retina, and you
see those shadows as something "floating" in your field of
Do Floaters Get There?
birth, there is a large blood vessel in the vitreous, but
by birth the vessel is no longer required and it disintegrates
-- but not completely. The broken-up particles remain for
life and float around. These are the floaters that everyone
occurrences can add more floaters. As your eyes age, the vitreous
may become stringy, and the strands cast tiny shadows on the
retina. Bits of debris from other tissues in the eye may fall
into the vitreous. Floaters may come from old or new bleeding
within the eye. They may be the result of a disease that causes
opaque deposits in the vitreous or of an ocular inflammation
that causes cellular debris, or they may be a residual from
an old injury.
Floaters a Serious Problem?
most cases floaters are simply an annoyance. An eye examination
will usually reveal if there's something serious that needs
medical attention. The sudden appearance of new floaters,
sometimes accompanied by apparent flashes of light in the
peripheral (side) vision, can be a sign that a vitreous detachment
has occurred, a frequent consequence of aging that is not
rare occasions, however, these symptoms can be a danger sign
that a retinal tear has occurred. The only way to diagnose
the actual cause of the problem is by a complete eye examination,
followed by another one a few weeks later.
Floaters Be Treated?
floaters interfere with vision, you can shift them out of
your line of sight by moving your eyes around quickly, side-to-side
or up and down. The only way to get floaters out of the vitreous
is by surgical removal, and since they are rarely more than
a nuisance, the benefit of surgery would not warrant the risks.
Surgery might be considered necessary only if the cells and
debris are extremely dense and numerous, enough to interfere
with useful vision, but this is very rare.