By Dr. Amit Nene

“Eye floaters” are deposits or condensation in the vitreous (often referred to as vitreous humor, vitreous fluid, or vitreous gel), the material that fills the posterior part of the eye.

The light going to the retina passes through the vitreous humor, which is a jellylike material that occupies the back two-thirds of the eye. At birth and during childhood years, the vitreous gel is usually totally clear and transparent. Later in life, strands, deposits, or liquid pockets very commonly develop within the vitreous gel. Each of these changes in density casts a small shadow onto the surface of the retina, and these shadows may be perceived by the patient as eye floaters.

In addition to vitreous syneresis and posterior vitreous detachments, both of which are normal occurrences that cause eye floaters with aging, there are a large number of abnormalities in the eyes that may also cause the symptoms of eye floaters.

Eye floaters can be annoying and may be anxiety-provoking, but by themselves they are not dangerous. The majority of eye floaters are caused by normal aging changes within the eye. However, a person developing the sudden appearance of eye floaters should be checked by an ophthalmologist to make certain that there is no associated eye abnormality or systemic disease that requires treatment.