Q. Kindly explain the causes of eye floaters.

Answered by
Dr. Suresh Kumar G D
and medically reviewed by Dr. Divya Banu M
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 16, 2019

Hi doctor,

I am a male, recently 20 years of age. About a year ago I started noticing something weird with my left peripheral vision, although I could not put my finger on it. It was more like a weird sensation. I had just moved to another country at the time, so I can imagine I was quite stressed. As time passed the stress seemed to fade but I had some periods where I felt really distant, and as though my vision was causing it, but I could still not point out anything specifically.

I once then went for a relatively intensive jog, and the following day I noticed the first black dot in my vision along with some more not clearly noticeable ones. I called in with the local clinic for blood tests and to check different values with nothing proved to be wrong. A couple of days later, I went out to the park, seeing how doing some activity I usually liked doing, felt. I felt a tremendous "low" where I felt completely exhausted and everything felt kind of dreamy. The next day I decided I would go visit the clinic again and managed to book with the local university hospital, where I underwent more elaborate testing and even a talk with a psychologist. (I must mention at this point, my main concern was exhaustion, and this distant feeling I was having, not the floaters that started to take shape). I felt no need to continue with the psychologist, and the results turned out with nothing wrong.

A couple of more days later I went mountain-hiking with some friends over a weekend, and did not see any more floaters for the duration. But afterwards, getting some proper sleep at home, I noticed a substantial increase of floaters in my vision, as well as the flashes appearing when the floaters pass by light-sources. It is safe to say that was the last time I remember not being bothered by them.

From what I can recall, they kept increasing slowly, for about a week before I decided to check with an optician regarding my concern for a torn retina, but no such signs were found. Since this time 4-5 months ago, I cannot really put a finger on if they have continued to increase, but it is not going anywhere either. It has had an huge impact on my daily life and bothers me with lingering thoughts and concerns. I prefer dark surroundings, but when I go out during regular daylight or worse, I can see more floaters than I can count. I have heard they increase with age, but this sudden increase had and still got me worried. They still are not so clear as to obstruct my vision, but passes by my point of focus from time to time. What could the initial cause be? Is there anything I could do to hinder or prevent further development, or even reduce them? Or is these one of those things you just have to live with?



Welcome to icliniq.com.

Floaters are fairly common in the population. They are more common in people having refractive errors like myopia, astigmatism, etc. Since you are having flashes along with floaters, it is good to have a fundus examination of your eyes. I note that you have seen an optician few months ago and nothing signficant was found. If floaters and flashes are persistent, it is better to consult an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye examination after dilating your eyes. Conditions like retinal tears, fluid under the retina need to be ruled out. Other conditions like vitreous detachment can cause similar symptoms but they are very rare at your age, usually happens above 40 years.

Regarding floaters, your brain will gradually learn to ignore them in your visual field and will become less prominent over time. If floaters are big and obstructing your vision, there are certain procedures like floaters which can break them up and make them less noticeable. Risks vs benefits need to be discussed with ophthalmologist following eye examination.

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