Eye floaters drift through your field of Vision and usually appear as small, pestering dots in one's view. They mostly standout when there is an extreme contrast of color between them and whatever you are looking at. These pesky light-blockers can indeed be annoying, but they are, for the most part, harmless. The strangest thing about floaters is that they appear to be on your eye, but they are, in fact, inside your eye. So, trying to rub away a floater is pointless. There are a few rare cases where treatment is required to minimize them; otherwise, they are both harmless and painless.

Floater facts

Floaters get their name from just that, they seem to aimlessly float around your vision. They usually dart away when you try to focus on them and they come in many different shapes which include: dark dots, squiggly lines, rings, thread-like strands that are almost translucent, or even cobweb-shaped. Once a person develops eye floaters, they normally don't go away. For the most part, people notice them less over time as they just become a part of that person's vision. Floaters develop in many sizes and if they are too big, doctors may consider surgery to remove them.

What makes a floater?

Floaters are composed of a protein called collagen. They help make up a gel-like material that is stored in the back of the eye, an area known as the vitreous.

As we get older, the fibers holding the vitreous shrink to small fragments and they then clump together. They cast shadows when they stray to the area directly behind the pupil. The clumping of the proteins usually occurs between the ages of 50 and 75, but have been recorded to happen at any age, in some cases. If one is nearsighted, had cataract surgery, or has diabetes, they are more likely to develop eye floaters at a later age.

Some people experience something like eye floaters through migraine headaches, but these usually last only a couple minutes.

Medically speaking

As stated before, floaters aren't too much to worry about. However, some patterns that arise from them are worrisome. If one were to have floaters and then, suddenly, they increased, it could indicate a retinal detachment.

This is especially true if one were to experience light flashes or loss of peripheral vision. Retinal detachment is serious and considered an emergency. According to the National Eye Institute, surgery is not recommended for tame eye floaters as complications can occur post-surgery. Doctors only recommend the surgery if the floaters are drastically interfering with one’s vision.