Vitreous Floaters

Floaters or Vitreous floaters

Floaters are a visual perception of dots, spots or fibrils which may seem to “swim” or shift location when gaze is shifted (see also – “PVD” & “Pars planitis”). Many patients describe them as small insects, comma shaped images, threads, etc.. Transient floaters could be due to migraine. Whereas long-standing floaters may be due to posterior vitreous detachment, posterior uveitis (cells in the vitreous – vitreous flare), vitreous haemorrhage (blood in the vitreous), vitreous condensation/debris, and vitreous degeneration/liquefaction. Sudden appearance of floaters could herald a retinal haemorrhage. Floaters are also a result of Amyloidosis (as in chronic alcoholism).

Except in the case of migraine (wherein floaters are due to central circulatory disturbances), floaters are present in the vitreous gel (in the posterior chamber of the eye). Their nature is debatable, but they may consist of denatured proteins, blood and blood products, aqueous and other things. These opaque/semi-transparent objects have a tendency to float up in the vitreous (and therefore appear to sink if the eyes are held steady), and if an attempt is made to “catch” them, they move rapidly.

Treatment is directed to the cause, and very rarely, specially in case the floaters affect vision vitrectomy may be indicated.