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Eye Floaters

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What are eye floaters?

“Floaters” are little specks that float about in your vision. They are usually small, dark, shadowy shapes that look like spots and move as your eyes move. However, they may seem to disappear when you try to look at them directly.

Most people have floaters at some point and learn to ignore them – and they are a part of the natural aging process. Floaters are usually not noticed until they become numerous or prominent. They can become obvious when looking at something bright, such as a blue sky or a white piece of paper.

What causes eye floaters?

The vitreous is what holds the shape of your eye and as you get older it shrinks and loses its shape in your eye. As the gel-like vitreous liquifies, pieces break off, clump together and float around your eye – hence the name floater.

Floaters can be really annoying and distracting but they do tend to go away on their own naturally – through gravity (eventually settling at the bottom of the eye). If you suddenly see a lot of them and they aren’t going away on their own, schedule an eye appointment because it could mean you have a retinal detachment or other serious eye condition.


If floaters are simply an annoyance, then no treatment is recommended. If floaters become problematic and considerably affect vision, there is a procedure that you can have done called a vitrectomy. This procedure removes the vitreous gel along with all those pesky floaters. However, you do run the risk that retinal cells also get sucked out of your eye. Think of it like taking wallpaper off of sheet rock – sometimes you get some sheet rock with it. Since there are significant risks to the procedure, we are reluctant to recommend it.

If you are struggling with or concerned about floaters, come see us and let us take a look at your eye. Otherwise, rest assured they are not serious and should go away on their own.

Written by Dr. Joseph Rich

Dr. Joseph D. Rich moved to Columbia shortly after completing his doctorate at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. Growing up and completing his undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, and business management at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, MO, Dr. Rich considers himself a full-fledged Mizzou fan and actively enjoys going to as many games as possible.
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