Eye floaters are tiny particles of floating matter found in the fluid of the eyeball. In medical terms they are also known as muscae volitantes. Sometimes they appear as thread like strands or spots in the front of the eye and can even be confused with dust particles or small insects. As opposed to dust particles, one cannot get rid of eye floaters by simply rubbing the eyeball because these particles lie within the eyeball. Eye floaters have a tendency to follow eye movements and will eventually stop moving when the eye stops moving. Normally eye floaters are not a big cause for concern and they appear and disappear from time to time.
One of the main causes of eye floaters is progressing age. As you grow older the vitreous fluid which fills the eyeball and is responsible for keeping the shape of the eye intact, starts diminishing. It tends to become stringy and starts casting small shadows on the retina of the eye. Patients suffering from diabetes or those who have recently been operated for cataracts are at a higher risk of getting affected. A tear in the retina can cause red blood cells to leak from the blood vessels therefore leading to an accumulation of white blood cells in the vitreous humor of the eyeball. This causes eye floaters to develop and the vision diminishes. Eye floaters can sometimes cause a loss of peripheral vision and the affected individual may begin to see white patches of light from time to time. Injuries and eye diseases can also cause eye floaters. In the case of vitreous hemorrhage, infections like chorioditis or cyclitis and inflammation, changes in the neighboring tissues result in eye floaters. Laser eye surgeries or cataract surgeries are also some of the causes of eye floaters. The predominant diseases which can cause eye floaters include leukemia, eye tumors, tuberculosis, lymphoma, syphilis, toxoplasmosis of the eye and asteroid hyalosis. Eye floaters are common in almost 70% of the adult population and are hardly ever dangerous.
The most common eye floaters symptoms include noticing tiny particles floating around in ones line of sight, associated headaches or migraines, seeing white spots followed by flashes of light and loss of peripheral vision. Eye floaters can be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist with the help of an ophthalmoscope or slit lamp. If the eye floaters are very close to the retina, they might not be as visible to the doctor as they are to the patient. The ophthalmoscope illuminates the background and causes the pupil to contract, thus giving the doctor a better view of the floaters. Generally eyes floaters are harmless and do not require treatment. However if there is a sudden development of many eye floaters or an increase in the prevalent flashes of light, an ophthalmologist should be consulted immediately to rule out chances of any other anomalies of the eye. One of the important treatments for eye floaters is laser surgery or vitreolysis. This is done in complex cases where the retina may be torn or damaged. Pneumatic retinopexy is a medical procedure where a gas bubble is injected into the eyeball to keep the retina in place. Another treatment method involves injecting silicone oil into the eye to hold the retina in position. Doctors may also recommend using certain medicated solutions as an effective remedy for eye floaters. Some of the natural cures for eye floaters include regular eye exercises and antioxidants or food sources rich in vitamin A, C and E. Carrots, dairy products, spinach, leafy vegetables, lemons and fruits are excellent for maintaining healthy eyes and treating eye floaters.