Floaters are small shapes that some people see floating in their field of vision. They may appear as small black spots, cob-web-like patterns or long, narrow strands. They are more noticeable against a bright background when looking into the distance and they move around as you look in different directions.
What causes floaters?
Floaters are commonly either:
- Small condensations of normal tissue within the jelly-like vitreous humour, which fills the middle of the eye.
- Caused by a separation of the vitreous from the retina. This is often referred to as a ‘posterior vitreous detachment’.
As light passes through the eye, these opacities cause shadows to be cast on to the retina. If you have floaters, it is these shadows you will see.
When to seek medical help
Floaters occur more commonly with age. In most cases, they do not cause significant problems and do not require treatment. However, floaters may rarely be a sign of a retinal tear or retinal detachment.
You should visit your optician immediately if you notice an increase or sudden change in your floaters, particularly if you notice white flashes.