What are floaters?

Floaters are a naturally occurring condition as a result of ageing. The floaters usually appear after the fifth and sixth decade of life, but in people who are short-sighted, this can appear much earlier.

What causes floaters?

The eye has jelly which is situated behind the crystalline lens and the retina. As a result of ageing, this gel becomes liquid, and due to the loss of shape, it tends to move around producing the symptom of floaters.

Are floaters serious?

Most floaters do not affect sight, if they are single. Multiple floaters combined with flashes or shadow in the side vision could potentially indicate a serious sight threatening problem, like retinal tear and/or retinal detachment.

Do floaters need to be treated?

Usually floaters are benign, but could be annoying, particularly when working in front of a white screen, like computers, tablets or a light coloured wall.

What investigation should I have?

It would be sensible to undergo a comprehensive retinal examination to exclude tear in the retina. This will involve putting drops to open up the pupil and examine the retina with a special microscope called a slit-lamp.

What happens to these floaters?

The floaters generally tend to settle in a few weeks to a couple of months. Rarely, this may persist and be troublesome in daily life.

What is the treatment for floaters?

Usually, floaters do not need any treatment. If they are extremely bothersome, then, in selected cases, laser can be performed to clear the floater. Very few patients may benefit from surgery to remove floaters.