Those squiggles and blobs you see? They're called floaters, and we've got the lowdown.

Ever wondered about the little blobs or squiggles that can drift around in your vision? Known as “floaters”, they often come to our attention if we are looking at a large, blank space, such as a clear sky or white wall.

So, what are floaters exactly?

Our eyes are filled with a jelly-like substance known as vitreous humour. The floaters are caused when the vitreous humour becomes slightly liquefied, as a result of ageing. Microscopic fibres tend to clump together within the vitreous, which then cast shadows onto the retina – and voila, you’re seeing floaters.

Don’t stress, though, because floaters are harmless – for most people, anyway.

Dr Con Moshegov, of Macquarie Street Laser Eye Clinic, explains that floaters are “very common… but not all are troublesome,” particularly for those over 40.

Floaters might annoy you once you notice them – why won’t that thing just get out of my line of sight?!, you may fume – but don’t worry because your brain will eventually get used to them and then start to ignore them.

“I reassure patients that their brains will learn to ignore the floaters in the same way you don’t notice the frames of your glasses in your vision,” says Michael Ehrlich, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the Yale School of Medicine. (Post continues after gallery.)


If you just can’t ignore a common case of floaters the problem can be easily fixed with lasers.

“There is a new way to dissolve them with a laser. This is the Ellex Ultra Q Reflex YAG laser. Very easy. Very safe,” suggests Dr Moshegov. An alternative is to have a surgery called a vitrectomy but it is considered to be a much more invasive procedure.

There are times floaters should prompt a visit to the doctor or ophthalmologist. Occasionally, floaters can be a symptom of inflammation, infection or possibly diabetes.

Warning signs you should look for? “A sudden shower of new floaters, flashes of light or reduction in vision (like a shadow) are bad signs of retinal problems and one should see an ophthalmologist quickly,” explains Dr Moshegov.

These could be symptoms of a retinal tear or retinal detachment which are sight-threatening conditions.

But for most cases of floaters, they are nothing to worry about. It can be a fantastic case of blink and you’ll miss it.

What concerns you the most, when it comes to eye health?

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