Do you have a speck, squiggle or cobweb in your vision that doesn’t go away? It’s probably an eye floater. In this post, the Oregon Eye Specialists experts tell you what causes eye floaters, whether they can be treated and when to see an eye doctor.

Eye floater causes

Your eye is filled with a clear gel called the vitreous. Eye or vision floaters happen when cells in this gel form a clump or strand that casts a shadow on your retina. The retina is the tissue at the back of the eye where you form images.

Sometimes the vitreous starts to pull away from the retina. This is called a “posterior vitreous detachment,” and it is another cause of floaters.

Floaters are most common in middle-aged and older people. That’s because of changes that happen in the vitreous with age. Learn more about floaters from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Do eye floaters need treatment?

A new floater should be checked by an eye doctor. You should call your eye doctor right away if a new floater affects your ability to see clearly.

If you have floaters plus flashes of light in your peripheral vision (side vision) or any vision loss, these could be signs of a torn or detached retina. Call your eye doctor right away. You need to be checked and treated promptly.

Most floaters are caused by changes in the vitreous. If your floater is caused by these common changes, you do not need treatment. But if you notice warning signs of a torn or detached retina (floaters plus flashes of light or vision loss), you need to be checked and treated right away.

A complete, dilated eye exam is the only way to check your retina. You can reach Oregon Eye Specialists at 503-935-5580 or call any of our 10 convenient locations.

Can eye floaters be cured?

No. But many floaters are harmless. A floater might stay in your vision for several weeks or months, but your brain usually gets used to the image so you no longer notice it.

Eye surgery does not help floaters, and taking vitamins will not make them go away.

Symptoms to watch out for with an eye floater

See an eye doctor right away if you have one or more floaters and any of these symptoms:

  • Vision loss – This can be less vision than normal or no vision at all
  • Flashing lights – Like “seeing stars” or lightning in your vision
  • Shadows in your side vision
  • Something that looks like a dark curtain across your vision

Since floaters are more common as you get older, get a complete eye exam at age 40, even if you have no eye problems or conditions that can cause eye disease, such as diabetes.

Your eye doctor can tell if you have any condition that raises your risk of floaters and other eye problems, and how often to get regular eye exams.

Contact Oregon Eye Specialists or call us at 503-935-5580.