At some point or another, most of us have seen a “floater” in our eyes. They can appear in many different shapes, and might even look like a tiny bug or an eyelash at first. Floaters are often simply annoying, but can become a cause for concern. Let’s take a look at what they are and when you should call your eye doctor about them.

What Are Floaters?

Our eyes contain vitreous gel which is made up of water and collagen. Floaters appear when strands of this vitreous gel become attached to each other as the liquid thickens with age. The shadows of these clumping strands are what you see as floaters. Though floaters can happen to anyone, especially as you get older, people who are nearsighted or who have diabetes are more susceptible to floaters.

green eye with brown spots on the face of an elderly woman eye floaters

You may notice floaters most frequently when you’re looking at something bright, like your computer screen or the sky. In many cases, simply blinking or changing what you’re looking at can make them disappear or be less intrusive.

If you have floaters that are making it hard to see, you may be able to have them surgically removed. However, as we’ll discuss below, floaters that impede your vision can also be signs of more serious conditions and should be looked at by an eye doctor.

When Should You Worry About Floaters?

Floaters are common, but they can be a sign of eye issues that you need to get addressed. A retinal tear, retinal detachment, bleeding in the eye and vitreous detachment can all cause floaters and are all conditions that need quick attention.

How do you know the difference between common floaters and those that are concerning?

Here are some warning signs to look for:

  • Flashes of light that accompany the floaters
  • A large number of floaters newly appearing
  • Your peripheral vision disappears
  • Your peripheral or regular vision becomes blurry or shadowed
  • Your eye hurts
  • You notice changes in your regular floaters – size, shape, or how often they appear

Concerned About Floaters or Other Issues?

Whenever you’re concerned about your vision, the smart thing to do is reach out. Whether you’ve been experiencing floaters for years, or this is a new eye issue for you, the team at Maine Optometry is here to answer questions and provide the care your eyes need. Reach out any time to speak with our staff or set up an appointment at (207) 389-3525.