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Frequently Asked Questions About Eye Floaters


WRITTEN BY: Eye Center
Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Vitreous floaters, more commonly known as eye floaters, are small spots that appear in your vision.

Denise Gallagher, MD, an ophthalmologist at UPMC Eye Center explains more about the cause and treatment of eye floaters.

What Are the Causes of Eye Floaters?

The most common cause is aging.  It is normal for the vitreous gel in the back part of our eye to become more liquefied as we get older, and the strands that hold the gel together begin to clump and form the floaters that we are then able to see.

What Conditions Are Eye Floaters Associated With?

Eye floaters can also be associated with a retinal tear or detachment.  Other conditions that can cause floaters include inflammatory conditions within the eye, and diabetic retinopathy, which can cause bleeding inside of the eye.

Who Develops Eye Floaters?

Most people will develop floaters as they get older. This process happens gradually with age and the floaters can start to be seen even in a person’s 20’s and 30’s.  There is no effective way to prevent this from happening. It is more common the older you are, or if you are more near-sighted.

When Should You See a Doctor?

It is always recommended you see an ophthalmologist if you suddenly develop new floaters.  As mentioned above, new floaters can sometimes be associated with a number of eye conditions and it is best to see the ophthalmologist to rule out any other conditions. A dilated retina exam is recommended in order to assess for these.

What Are the Treatment Options?

In most cases, the ophthalmologist will just monitor the vitreous floaters if there are no other abnormalities noted on exam. The floaters typically cause no harm and become less noticeable with time. Vitreous surgery can be performed to remove them in extreme cases, but this carries the risk of having surgery on an otherwise healthy eye and is usually not recommended.

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Eye Center

A recognized leader in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and disorders, the physician’s and staff of the UPMC Eye Center work to improve patients’ quality of life through vision preservation and restoration. We personalize and individualize care for each patient, and our care is always patient-focused. Read More