Floaters are commonly experienced by many patients. Usually, floaters are described as spots, lines or cobwebs floating in the visual field which is especially prominent in a bright background for example, a clear blue sky. Sometimes floaters may be accompanied by bright flashes of light in the visual field as there may be traction on the retina by the vitreous gel.
Floaters are generally benign; caused by degeneration of the vitreous gel in the eye. The gel being liquefied, “floats” with the eye movements. The image cast onto the retina forms the image of a floater.
Not all floaters are benign. Patients who are experiencing the following symptoms should consult an eye specialist as soon as possible:
- Floaters of recent onset
- Sudden increase in number of floaters
- Persistent and frequent flashes of light
- Floaters associated with a “curtain” covering part of the vision
- History of short-sightedness or recent injury to the eye
It is important to visit an eye specialist as soon as such symptoms arise so that any sight threatening conditions can be excluded. In general, floaters will not resolve and patients usually become accustomed to the presence of floaters in their visual fields.