EyeWise Vision Clinic

Vitreous Floaters 101: Causes, Risks & Treatment

When spots or lines start to appear in your vision, this could be a sign that you have vitreous floaters. This condition is commonly caused by age-related changes in your eye. Though it can be inconvenient when it first appears, you can overcome your vision difficulties and learn to adapt to it. However, the first step to overcoming the effects of this condition is to get extensive information about it. With this, we give you all you need to know about vitreous floaters.

What Are Vitreous Floaters?

Vitreous floaters, often referred to as eye floaters, are small, shadowy shapes or spots that appear to “float” across your field of vision. These spots or shadowy shapes that appear are also known as vitreous opacities. 

The vitreous humour is a gel-like substance that fills the space within the eye, helping it maintain its shape. Over time, this vitreous humour undergoes changes that can lead to the formation of floaters. These changes primarily involve the vitreous shrinking and clumping together. As the vitreous shrinks, it can pull away from the retina, resulting in the formation of floaters. 

While you may get the feeling that these spots or lines are in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside it. These clumps will cast shadows on the retina, giving you the impression that there are floating particles in your vision.

What Causes Vitreous Floaters?

Understanding what causes vitreous floaters is essential to address and manage this vision issue effectively. Despite age being a common factor, there are also other factors that could increase your risk or exacerbate the condition:

Posterior Uveitis

Uveitis refers to the inflammation of the tissue in the middle layer of the eye wall. Posterior uveitis affects the back of the eye, which has the retina and an eye layer called the choroid. When inflammation occurs, it causes eye floaters to appear. Having posterior uveitis could be an indication of an infection, autoimmune disorder, or inflammatory disease. 

Retina Being Torn or Detached

A torn retina can occur when a contracting vitreous tugs the retina with enough force to tear it. When this does not get treated right away, it may eventually lead to retinal detachment. If fluid leaks behind the tear, it could potentially separate the retina from the back of your eye, resulting in permanent vision loss.

Bleeding in the Eye

When there is bleeding in the vitreous due to retinal tears or detachments, diabetes, or even high blood pressure, blood cells can be seen as floaters.

Risk Factors for Vitreous Floaters

These factors increase your risk of developing vitreous floaters:

  • Being over the age of 50
  • Nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Eye injury
  • Complications from cataract surgery
  • Diabetes complications

Treatment Options for Vitreous Eye Floaters

You must note that not all floaters require treatment, as many are harmless. However, it’s still essential to get an eye examination to determine if your vitreous opacities are serious enough to consider surgical removal or vitrectomy. When extensive particles or clouds of debris in the vitreous cavity move in and out of vision, you may have a hard time reading continuously or even driving. With this, the eye doctor may recommend surgical treatment.

A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure where an eye surgeon removes your vitreous and almost all the vitreous opacities. Though it can be effective for severe cases, this procedure carries some risks, so it’s typically only considered when floaters significantly impair vision.

But if the eye doctor determines that your eye floater is not dangerous, then maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing other underlying conditions can protect your eyes from injury. It can also prevent the formation of new floaters overall. 

Get Help for Your Vitreous Floaters at EyeWise Vision

Vitreous floaters are a common visual phenomenon, especially as we age. While they may be benign, it’s essential to understand their causes, risk factors, and treatment options. If you’re concerned about vitreous floaters or other eye-related issues, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at our eye clinic in Singapore. Our eye doctor at EyeWise Vision can work closely with you to manage your existing condition and provide solutions that will help keep your eyes healthy even as you grow older. 

Learn more about other eye conditions by checking out our guide on digital eye strain and how glaucoma affects you.

Dr. Christopher Khng, specializes in Complex Cataract and Anterior Segment Reconstruction Surgery, in particular, Iris Reconstruction and surgery for Aniridia. His other areas of expertise include Complex Lens surgery, New Lens and Phacoemulsification technologies, Refractive surgery, Phakic IOLs (the Implantable Collamer Lens, ICL), and small-incision, topical anesthesia phacoemulsification cataract surgery. Dr. Khng is a member of the Singapore Medical Association (SMA), a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), and the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ECSRS). He is registered with the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in Singapore and with the General Medical Council (GMC) for practice in the United Kingdom.