Are You Seeing Things That Aren't There? They Might Be Floaters

Posted on: 30 March 2015

Remember the House episode, 'Lines in the Sand' which showed a small boy who saw small lines in his vision? It turned out that he had roundworms floating in his eyes. Don't worry! If you're seeing lines or dots it is very unlikely that you've been infested with roundworm, and much more likely that you have a condition known as Floaters.  

What are floaters?

Your eye is made up of the retina, number of important cells which bounce light and help you see, and vitreous humour, a substance like jelly. This vitreous gel is thick, despite being mostly made of water, due to the protein fibres insides.

As you age, the vitreous gel can shrink and detach from the retina. As it shrinks, the protein fibres begin to clump together and float through the vitreous gel as you move your eye.

These protein fibre clumps aren't floating on the surface of your eyeball, but they are casting shadows as the light comes through your eye and bounces off your retina. It is these shadows that you can see floating across your vision.  


Floaters are best seen when looking at a blank wall or clear blue sky (don't look at the sun, that will leave you with an entirely different kind of spots in your vision and cause a lot of damage). If you notice any of the following, you probably have Floaters.

  • You may see lines but they can also look like dots, webs, bubbles or clumps.
  • They will move as you move your eye but the movement will be delayed as your movement gently causes the vitreous humour to move.  


The good news is that Floaters are generally harmless. However, you should still speak to your optometrist to get the diagnosis confirmed and your eyes checked just in case.

In rare instances, the fibre clumps can block your vision. If you notice a sudden surge in Floaters or a flash of light you should contact your optometrist at once as you may have a detached retina caused by the vitreous humour ripping away from the back of your eye which can cause serious problems.

Your Floaters probably won't require treatment and can come and go. If Floaters have moved into your vision and are particularly troublesome, try moving your eye up and down and side to side to swill the vitreous humour and move the fibre clump.

If your Floaters are particularly bad or affecting your vision, surgery may be required. A vitrectomy involves removing the vitreous humour containing the Floaters from the affected eye. While this sounds horrible, the eye does not need the fluid to function properly. The vitreous humour is replaced with a saline solution or air which is eventually replaced by the eye's natural fluid.  

If you're seeing spots and lines, don't panic but do speak to your optometrist (like those at Eye Supply) to check that no damage has been done as your eyes age.


Managing chronic pain in my back

I was in a car accident nearly a decade ago and I have been in pain ever since. I have tried a lot of different therapies because I don't want to be reliant on pain medication for my whole life. Some of the therapies work really well and some haven't been that effective. This blog is a record of some of the therapies that I have tried as well as some of the therapies my friends and companions from the pain clinic have tried. I hope it's useful for other people who are dealing with chronic pain in their life.

Latest Posts