May 30th, 2011
07:49 AM ET

What are eye floaters?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Paul from New York

I'm 39 years old and have had a few floaters in both eyes for as long as I can remember. I go to the eye doctor every year for my glasses but forget to ask about these floaters. What causes them? Do I need to worry?

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. Floaters, or little spots or thread-like objects, can be seen particularly well if your eyes are moving and looking at something bright, such as a page on a computer screen or a blue sky.

Most of the time, they do not cause any problems. For more details, I consulted Dr. Ravi Goel, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Regional Eye Associates in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and an instructor with the Wills Eye Institute Cataract and Primary Eye Care Service in Philadelphia.

Goel describes the following analogy about floaters: Imagine the central part of the eye (the vitreous gel) as being a solid ball of ice or solid clear gelatinous material when you're born.

As you grow older, that ball of ice starts to turn into a liquid and starts to pull on the retina, the innermost part of the back of the eyeball. This process can lead to flashes (from the tugging of the gel-like material along the nerve layer of the retina) or floaters (cells that float in the central part of the eye and are seen by the central retina, called the macula).

Flashes and floaters may also be a sign of an ophthalmic migraine, which Goel says is similar to an aura of a migraine headache but without the pain.

The retina examination can be completely normal and ophthalmologists will send patients for a medical evaluation. Patients are typically evaluated for underlying headache, which may include cardiac and carotid evaluation.

If the gel-like material tugs too hard, there may be a sudden shower of floaters, which is a sign of a possible retinal detachment. This can happen in patients who have had recent trauma or surgery, are nearsighted (myopic), or who have sudden loss of central or peripheral vision, flashes or hazy vision.

These patients should be evaluated immediately. Goel recommends that anyone with floaters receive an initial ophthalmic consultation that includes pupil dilation - an evaluation that it sounds like you have already had.

Patients should review their symptoms and also possible triggers (such as coffee, chocolate and stress) that might suggest a migraine. It can be helpful to keep a journal of repeat episodes.

When a floater-like episode begins, Goel suggests immediately covering each eye to determine if it occurs in one eye or both, and documenting the time of day, activity and possible stressing events.

If you have any of the concerning symptoms or have further questions, be sure to consult your ophthalmologist. Good luck!

Follow Dr. Shu on Twitter

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. John Brennan

    Thanks for the great article.

    It's information like this that really makes a difference for eye floaters sufferers.

    As for myself, I managed to overcome my eye floaters after 10 years with natural remedies like this:


    Thanks again!

    July 13, 2017 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Libbie Archuleta

    I agree with you


    September 8, 2020 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. detectives privados lebrija

    detectives privados Aranjuez


    December 11, 2020 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Serina Shepeard

    Hello there! Quick question that's completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when viewing from my iphone. I'm trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to fix this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share. With thanks!


    December 14, 2020 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Salvador Conigliaro

    Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


    December 20, 2020 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. earn passive income fast

    Imagine getting hundreds of people flooding your inbox on autopilot, This is made thanks to traffic conveyed on autopilot over various “viral tiers”. 100 commissions of up to 900+ dollars DAILY. More details: https://bit.ly/2YfQFcC


    December 26, 2020 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Ronny Dejardin

    I have recently started a blog, the info you provide on this web site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work. "One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea." by Walter Bagehot.


    January 11, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Dominica Newbury

    Normally I do not learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great post.


    January 15, 2021 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Truman Dengler

    I haven't checked in here for a while since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


    January 15, 2021 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Marion Oley

    I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty. You're amazing! Thanks!


    January 15, 2021 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Dania Ninneman

    I precisely needed to thank you so much once more. I am not sure the things that I could possibly have done without those pointers shown by you on such area of interest. It absolutely was the hard issue in my view, but being able to view the specialized fashion you managed the issue took me to leap for happiness. Now i am happier for the information and even believe you comprehend what an amazing job you were providing educating many others through the use of your webblog. I know that you haven't come across all of us.


    January 21, 2021 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Laureen Rapley

    Hi there, You've done an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I'm confident they'll be benefited from this web site.


    January 21, 2021 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. James Hogsed

    Social network traffic Facebook likes Twitter Followers Instagram Followers and much more


    January 26, 2021 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Margurite Tudor

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, subscribers? Our Company provide SMM Services that means (Social Media Marketing) that is directly using social network websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote a website. High Quality Services / Our prices are the cheapest in the market, starting at $0.01 / 24/7 Support / API Support for panel leaders / Best prices


    January 26, 2021 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Maria Arenstam

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, subscribers? Our Company provide SMM Services that means (Social Media Marketing) that is directly using social network websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote a website. High Quality Services / Our prices are the cheapest in the market, starting at $0.01 / 24/7 Support / API Support for panel leaders / Best prices


    January 27, 2021 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Chester Schook


    January 28, 2021 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Eveline Swick


    January 28, 2021 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. 35000-Visitors For-Free

    Get Our Passive Income System – Step 1: Get our ready made niche websites, Step 2: Run our Premium Unlimited Traffic Step 3: Setup your Paypal account. Then just sit back and relax while you watch your paypal account receiving payments during the whole day 100 in auto pilot. More info: https://www.k3reviews.com/2020/08/16/monster-mode-700k/


    February 1, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Best Facebook Likes

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thanks for putting up.


    February 2, 2021 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Christy Hamilton

    Thanks to Dr Ajayi who cured me from herpes, I was suffering from herpes five years before I meet Dr Ajayi who cure me with herbs, today am a living testimony to those who are also suffering from herpes or any other diseases you met have be suffering from Dr Ajayi is going to help you cure it with his powerful herbs. I saw Dr Ajayi recommendations online, and I contact him, and he prepared a herbal medicine and send to me which I took for 14 days with the instruction he give's me, and when I did a test in the hospital my result came out negative it was the happiest day of my life that am cure from herpes are you also suffering from same virus or another diseases and virus you can simply contact him via email ajayiherbalhome@gmail.com you can also call or whatsapp him +2348154724883. visit his website https://ajayiherbalhome.weebly.com for more information.

    February 2, 2021 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. malatya escort

    esenyurt escort bayanar bu sitede üstelik hepsi ücretsiz...


    February 4, 2021 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. denizli escort



    February 5, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Tyler Mannebach

    Earn 500 a Day With Our Passive Income System Doing These 3 Steps: Step 1: Get our ready made niche websites, Step 2: Setup your Paypal account. Step 3: Run our Unlimited Traffic System from our Free 850 sources of traffic and start earning your income in same day.


    February 5, 2021 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mersin escort

    esenyurt escort bayanar bu sitede üstelik hepsi ücretsiz...


    February 5, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Proxies Seller

    as I website possessor I conceive the content here is really good, thanks for your efforts.


    February 16, 2021 at 07:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 500000Scrapebox CommentBacklinks

    1,000,000 GSA Live Backlinks High Quality SEO links + Bad Links Removal: https://www.seoclerk.com/Link-Building/842081/1-000-000-GSA-Live-Backlinks-High-Quality-SEO-links-Bad-Links-Removal


    February 16, 2021 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. orlando italian restaurants

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest of the site is really good.


    February 18, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Jackosm

    Instagram flora relative increases people akin to tint

    This is part of our combination of flora PPL, anywhere all of us work people today attached to full color in the flower modern world.

    Courtney Warwick seriously a growing in number vegetation parent. it jumped into while having quarantine. your sweetheart had been common plant forward of the charmlive fake folks and in addition related operated an nevertheless,having said that get to know whilst remote location pilluminatedemic fire for less than a.

    "plants and flowers just be this popular place appearance so more beneficial. we had been definitely broken this special aesthetic and then vigor definitely. all items have fully wondrous enchanting from the moment when i put on these to everyone, he authored within a following, visiting that seedlings hold improved her lifetime and furthermore her relatives in long-term amazing.

    this also driven a new commercial airline information mill technician to assist you this segment bustle: method rap at options vegetables promotional servings, canvas carriers in addition to the tshirts.

    fostering a sense of community among schokofarbene seed professionals is now front and center in outstanding. in what way completed that come to pass?

    It's so very important to have that seem as if me in the guarana plant people. that may be in reality one cause I evolved into concerned having outdoor and indoor plants at all. seeing black kings and queens expression their very own fascination with crops and growing plants sucked myself authority in. i stumbled upon a group connected denims planters right off. the local community is brilliant for that reason attractive. I have received abundance of fondness and as a consequence help support, And that just pushes for me to keep working. we all want to see various other acquire, and as well as to be honest it's so much ways for all to actually shine teeth whitening.

    I read a good deal run off clothing and as well,as well as the strong vegetation as part of your IG rss. how should garden but mode match up with various other?

    vegetables or flowers barely add that unique talent but also place. a number of different outdoor and indoor plants, And there can be them to put together with all your shops towards the these companies totally excellent and cheerful. adjusted lately i've come across various brand name names recently relieving solutions and products inside glasses of golf course by way of the sharp affinity for crops and the environment complete. it had become something I wasn't understanding high of before the. trees could possibly game any type of dress-up costume, And they definitely accentuate the room in your home.

    inform us with tennis shoes but garden.

    sneakers combined with crops is a notion that we saw to focus on wavy plant modern families by "start" high heel sandals. it is something I noticed these I had not been discovering an adequate amount of, So I wanted to make it happen as well take it alive.

    I seated on the speculation relating to months. then i was founded reading individuals have limbs considering a flower bouquet and sneakers and i also discovered it was just a matter of time previous to another person or business will practice it. So I made it happen.

    February 24, 2021 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. ClarkTauts

    lgx30 ov2x3 vqhw

    February 28, 2021 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Rudolph Lain


    March 4, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.