Floaters are not a medical condition, but debris which occur naturally in the jelly-like substance inside your eye (the vitreous humour). They usually appear as spots or strands in your field of vision, although they can become more like cobwebs as you get older.
Floaters usually move out of your field of vision very quickly, and are more noticeable when looking at light backgrounds such as a white wall or clear sky. Whilst floaters are generally not something to worry about, there are certain times when they can indicate a health issue.
What are the symptoms?
If you notice a sudden increase in the amount of floaters in your field of vision, or if your floaters are accompanied by white flashes, this could indicate either retinal detachment or a tear in your retina. If you experience these symptoms it is strongly recommended you see your optician as soon as possible, or alternatively visit your local accident and emergency department.
How are floaters treated?
If your retina has become detached, the only way to reattach it is through surgery. Without surgery it is certain in most cases that you will eventually experience total vision loss in the affected eye. Thankfully, nine out of ten patients only require a single surgery for successful reattachment.
Whilst floaters won’t cause problems for most people, in some cases they can be severe enough to significantly affect your vision and do not improve over time. In these situations, you may be recommended a vitrectomy. This is a surgery where the vitreous humour is removed from your eye along with all floaters, and is substituted with a saline solution. This procedure is only recommended in extreme cases however, due to the level of risk associated with eye surgery.