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What Are Eye Floaters?

Written by Shannon Wong on January 16, 2018

Timing your cataract surgeryEveryone experiences floaters at one point or another. Floaters are tiny spots, lines and specks that appear as dark shadows floating in the eye. They are perhaps most noticeable after staring at a plain white computer screen or on a sunny day. In most cases, floaters are completely harmless. But in some rare cases, floaters could be signs of a serious underlying eye problem.

In this blog post, the trusted eye doctors at Austin Eye share important information you should know about floaters, including when treatment is necessary.

Understanding Floaters and When They’re Serious

Eye floaters are tiny proteins that clump or bundle together in the vitreous, a clear gel-like substance that fills the center of the eye. Although it may appear that the floaters are in front of or on your eye, what you are actually seeing are shadows of the clumps of protein being cast onto the retina. Floaters appear in different shapes including lines, dots, circles and cobwebs.

Floaters can occur at any age, although they become more common as we age due to the breakdown of the vitreous fluid in the eye. Most floaters are not harmful and go away on their own after a few seconds or minutes.

In some instances, floaters can be a sign of an underlying condition like inflammation in the eye’s interior or diabetes. In even rarer and more serious cases, the sudden appearance of floaters (usually accompanied by flashes of light) can be a sign that the vitreous is detaching from the retina. If not treated promptly, retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision loss.

About Laser Floater Removal

Patients who experience an onset of floaters may be candidates for laser floater removal. The innovative procedure is an alternative to vitrectomy, a more invasive and complex treatment option that removes the entire vitreous. Laser floater removal uses tiny pulses of light to vaporize floaters safely. Most patients can expect a 60 to 90 percent reduction in floaters. Candidacy for the procedure is determined on a case-by-case basis.

To learn more about floaters and laser floater treatment, please contact Austin Eye. Call our North Office at (512) 250-2020 or our Central office at (512) 454-2020.