Almost everyone gets occasional specks in front of their eyes. These specks are known as eye floaters and are especially common when looking directly at a light background, or when feeling light-headed. The perception of floaters is medically known as myodesopsia.
What are Eye Floaters?
Eye floaters are little specks of debris floating through the vitreous fluid in the eyeball. They become more noticeable as the vitreous becomes more liquified later as we grow older. Sometimes people may momentarily confuse them with dust or tiny insects floating across in front of the eye. However, they are within the eyeball and are not eliminated by rubbing the front of the eye.
They follow the rapid movements of the eye while drifting slowly from one place to another.
If floaters didn't move, they would be invisible due to a process called neural adaptation.
Shortsighted people and people with food allergies and/or candidiasis (chronic yeast infections) are likely to notice eye floaters.
You have probably tried to track them with your eye, but they refuse to come into the centre of your vision.
Floaters against a clear blue sky (simulation)
Are Eye Floaters serious?
Under normal circumstances, eye floaters are absolutely nothing to worry about. Everyone experiences them from time to time and they cause no ill effects. Specks in front of the eyes are normally clearly visible when looking into a light background. Some eye health supplements may be beneficial in controlling floaters.
However, if the floaters start becoming visible in every background, suddenly increase in number and are accompanied by any loss of vision, it is vital that immediate medical advice is sought. This could be an early sign of retinal detachment.
If the retina has become detached or has a hole in it, you will begin to experience flashing lights before your eyes and you will also be aware of numerous floaters. These two symptoms will be accompanied by a loss of vision, so urgent medical advice is necessary. Surgery is required to seal any holes in the retina, or to re-attach the retina to the back of the eyeball.
Shortsighted people are more likely candidates of retinal detachment. It may simply occur, or may be the (in some cases delayed) result of sharp head movement (a sudden fall, bunji jumping, whip lash, etc).
What should I do?
If you experience a sudden deluge of floaters in your vision, especially accompanied by flashing lights and or bubbles in your vision, either contact
us immediately or go to the nearest Accident & Emergency clinic. If caught early enough, a detached retina can be surgically reattached.