Floaters - What Are They and Why They Occur

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Floaters are small specks in your field of vision. You might see them when you look at a plain background, like a blank wall. The vitreous humor of your eye- the clear gel that fills the inside of your eye - is where floaters originate, in the form of tiny bits of gel or cells. You aren't actually seeing these bits, but are really seeing their shadows as they are cast on your eye's retina, which is light sensitive. As your eye moves, the floater moves too, because it is inside your eye.

Older people at risk for detached retina sometimes see flashes of light, an early warning sign.

Migraine sufferers see flashes of light that look like jagged lines that last as long as 10-20 minutes. These are caused by the migraine, a blood vessel spasm in the brain. This symptom is often followed by a severe, debilitating headache and nausea.

Middle-aged people who are nearsighted, or have had cataract surgery, YAG laser eye surgery or inflammation of the eye are more likely to have floaters.

Floaters are generally no cause for alarm. However, if you see many floaters all of a sudden and experience light flashes or other visual disturbances, this could indicate retinal detachment or other serious eye problems for which you should contact your doctor immediately.

If you are considering LASIK surgery but have a concern about floaters, your first step is a thorough eye examination. The Sacramento LASIK surgeons at Griffin & Reed Eye Care would be happy to consult with you about your vision needs and answer all your questions about LASIK procedures and other options to improve your visual acuity.