Floaters are mobile opacities in your vision resulting from debris within the jelly that fills your eye.

Human eyes are full of a jelly-like substance called vitreous. Mostly made of water, the vitreous achieves its jelly-like properties through the interaction of collagen fibers and other molecules that maintain the shape and clarity of the eye.

At birth, collagen fibers in the vitreous jelly are thin and regularly spaced, allowing light to pass through them without casting a shadow on the retina. With age, the collagen in the vitreous jelly starts to clump into larger opacities, causing mobile, hair-like shadows to show up in the vision. The shadows are particularly prominent when looking at a bright blue sky or white wall.

In early life, the vitreous jelly is in contact with the surface of the retina in the back of the eye. Between the age of 50-70 in most people, the vitreous jelly separates from the surface of the retina, causing a sudden onset of flashes and new, dark floaters. These new symptoms are sometimes accompanied by retinal tears or detachments, and a dilated eye exam is recommended for anyone experiencing new floaters.

Sometimes, large floaters become a chronic, aggravating symptom. While most chronic floaters can be safely observed, treatment options such as laser and surgical removal are available for those patients with significant disruption of their everyday activities.