Eye floaters are small protein fibres from the gel-like substance called the vitreous at the back of the eye. They appear as black or grey spots, strands or cobwebs and can move about as your eyes move. Large, dense floaters can cause blurred vision. Floaters generally become more noticeable when looking at a plain background, such as the sky or when viewing a brightly-lit computer screen. The spots we see are actually shadows of the tiny specks in the vitreous gel.
Floaters are very common, most people will have at least a few. They tend to increase naturally over time with age changes in the vitreous. People who are short-sighted can have more floaters. Although annoying, eye floaters are typically harmless. Over time your brain learns to ignore them and they can fade into the background. If you have dense floaters that affect your vision, you can try moving your eyes around to move the floaters away to the side. Surgery to treat floaters is possible but usually reserved for more severe cases due to potential risks of the delicate operation.
If you notice new floaters in your eyes we recommend an eye examination to check the health of your retina. Sudden increase in floaters accompanied by flashes of light in your side vision may indicate other conditions that require prompt attention. Vitreous detachment is a common condition in people over 60 and in some cases can lead to a retinal detachment.
Book a dilated comprehensive eye examination immediately if you have noticed new eye floaters and/or light flashes in your vision.