Understanding Eye Floaters

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Eye floaters are an unusual phenomena. People might say they see organic looking shapes in their field of vision but, they are not really there. Eye floaters therefore can annoy people and while it can be bothersome, it’s not really a medical emergency. Many people have eye floaters and in fact, about half the people over 50 years of age have reported seeing these floaters. People over 70 are even more affected.

So, what are eye floaters then? If they aren’t really there, what is causing us to think we see certain shapes floating around our eyes? Well, even though they are called floaters, they don’t really float. Many folks don’t even realize they have floaters because they often aren’t even visible. Since they don’t float, therefore have a fixed position, the brain tends to block out the image of the floaters. Also, simple backgrounds that are illuminated such as the sky or the sun shining down on a plain surface may make eye floaters more easily visible.

Everyone sees floaters differently however, the most common “shapes” of eye floaters are spots, threads, cobwebs, and fragments. The floaters tend to move within your field of vision and you almost can’t help looking at them. Everytime your eye moves to try and look at the floaters, they appear to slip away and you feel like you’re trying to “catch” the floaters. Remember, these aren’t illusions but are actually within the eyes. Eye floaters are therefore termed “entopic phenomenon“.

While the vast majority of people who experience eye floaters have a harmless “condition”, there are times where floaters can indicate something more serious such as a detached retina. So, if you’re nervous about your eye floaters or feel they are severe, see your doctor and get examined to make sure you don’t have a more serious underlying condition.

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