Those pesky floaters. . .

Written by editor
August 15, 2016

Have you noticed floaters in your vision before?

Floaters occur for several reasons. Some people are born with floaters. Throughout fetal development, an artery in the eye dissolves over time. If any remnants of the artery persist after birth, these fragments float in gel in the back of the eyes. These floaters are not concerning, though may be annoying especially if looking at a bright background, like the sky or computer screen.

Floaters that suddenly occur may be concerning. A single large new floater may represent a posterior vitreal detachment (PVD) where the gel in the back of the eye shifts forward, making it's membrane visible. A dilated exam is needed to ensure only the gel moved forward. If the gel shifts and tears the retina, a retinal detachment may occur. A retinal detachment has the potential to be permanently sight-threating.

A flurry of new small black floaters may represent a torn retinal vessel and should be examined urgently as well. If flashes or a curtain over your vision is noticed as well, an urgent examination is needed.

While floaters are often annoying, they may indicate active changes occurring. A dilated examination is crucial for patients with new floaters.

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