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Eye floaters

Alternative Names

Specks in your vision.

Information

The floating specks you sometimes see in front of your eyes are not on the surface of your eyes, but inside them. These floaters are bits of cell debris that drift around in the fluid that fills the back of your eye. They may look like spots, specks, bubbles, threads, or clumps. Most adults have at least a few floaters. There are times when they may be more visible than at other times, such as when you are reading.

Most of the time floaters are harmless. However, they can be a symptom of a tear in the retina. (The retina is the clear tissue at the back of your eye.) If you notice a sudden increase in floaters or if you see floaters along with flashes of light, this may be a symptom of a retinal tear or detachment. Call your eye doctor if you have these symptoms.

References

Sebag J, Yee KMP. Vitreous:from Biochemistry to Clinical Relevance. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013: vol 1, chap 16.

Crouch ER Jr, Crouch ER, Grant TR Jr. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 41.

Updated: 11/12/2013

Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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