OPHTHALMIC SURGEON
Specialist in Glaucoma, Cataract, Pediatrics

Eye Floaters

Eye floaters, also known as “flying flies”, is a common eye disorder. These spots that seem to move in front of the eyes are presented in this article by the COP9 team. You will learn all about their origin, their symptoms, but also when to consult and what are the possible treatments.

Eye Floaters

What are eye floaters?

Myodesopsia, or eye floaters, is the appearance in the visual field of dots, spots, or filaments of various shapes, black or gray in color. These bodies will move with the gaze, and are sometimes compared to spiders by COP9 patients.

These floating bodies appear especially when the gaze is fixed on very bright spaces, such as the sky, a white wall or a bright computer screen

They are small condensed clusters, formed in the vitreous body of the eye. They will superimpose themselves on what is observed and move around. In this case, it does not require an appointment.

However, it can also be a   posterior vitreous detachment. This will pull on the retinal membrane, potentially resulting in tears and retinal detachment. This action will result in a lesion with bleeding, as well as flashes of light in addition to eye floaters. In this case, it is necessary to quickly see an ophthalmologist to avoid any complications.

What causes eye floaters?

Eye floaters, or myodesopsia, are caused by a variety of factors:

  • Degeneration due to aging (macular degeneration)
  • Myopia
  • Stress or fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Eye trauma 
  • Cataract surgery
  • Capsulotomy of the crystalline lens
  • Retinal detachment

Although it is an essentially harmless phenomenon, the COP9 team reminds you of the importance of being aware of the symptoms. Do not hesitate to make an appointment for a preventive fundus examination with your ophthalmologist.

What are the symptoms of eye floaters?

The following symptoms require special attention, with an ophthalmology consultation as soon as possible:

  • Eye floaters with flashes of light
  • Black spots and bright spots that increase in size
  • the eyeball is painful
  • A chronic migraine
  • Eye floaters accompanied by visual impairments (blurred vision)

Ocular pathologies, such as retinal lesions or hemorrhages, may occur: an ophthalmological examination during a medical appointment is strongly recommended.

What is the treatment for eye floaters?

Your eye specialist will check the condition of the eye fundus. They will perform any necessary ophthalmological examinations to study the pupil, the field of vision, the optic nerve, etc. Your family medical history will also be requested to detect any ocular fragility.

The objective of these complementary examinations is to eliminate any risk of tearing, bleeding, retinal detachment, or any other pathology that could justify the presence of dark spots and small filaments in the field of vision.

Treatment is not usually necessary. Eye floaters are benign and do not pose a threat to visual acuity.

In exceptional cases, where the eye floaters become a nuisance for the vision, like a dark veil, with a persistence of the symptom, it is possible for your ophthalmic surgeon to perform a surgical intervention, under anesthetic.

  • Vitrectomy: myodesopsia has a visual disability. This eye surgery consists in replacing the vitreous humor with a saline solution.
  • Laser vitreolysis: performed with the surgical YAG laser, it is a breakdown of the black spots.

COP9 draws your attention to the risk of any surgical procedure such as laser treatment: only in rare cases are they performed.

In conclusion: be vigilant with regard to eye floaters!

In the event of the appearance of small bright and/or black spots, which can become annoying, consider having an ophthalmological examination.   A film in front of the eyes or a change in your peripheral visual field may indicate a risk of retinal detachment or tearing. 

Both eyes, or just one, can be affected by eye floaters… so   watch out for those little spots in front of your eyes!

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