Boneham Peters Optometrist

Sydney CBD 02 9262 2555

Mosman 02 8043 6890

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What are floaters?

Quite often we will see patients coming in noticing little ‘things’ floating in their vision.  Patients are understandably concerned about these.  They are suitably known as floaters. Most of these floaters are of no consequence.  They are caused by the Jelly that is in our eye.  This jelly is known as the vitreous.  It fills the space between the front and the back of the eye.  Over time it shrinks and its structure changes such that the perfect ordered vitreous that we have when we are young binds together, becoming opaque, and, as light goes through it, it casts a shadow retina as it moves around in the eye.  To you, it looks like something floating.  As you look towards these floaters they will move around.

Most floaters are not a serious problem however, when the floaters are associated with flashes in your vision, they can be a sign of more serious problems. The vitreous jelly that is in the eye is attached to the retina at various positions.  As the vitreous shrinks it can pull on these areas of more firm attachment and eventually pull away from the retina.  In some cases though the attachment is so strong that, when it pulls away, it pulls the retina with it.  This can lead to retinal detachment which is an event that can lead to serious, lifelong loss of vision.  

The take-home message for floaters is, that if you ever notice new floaters in your vision, especially if associated with flashes, make an appointment to rule out the serious event of retinal detachment.


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