Sometimes, against a uniform, bright background such as a clear sky or a blank computer screen, you might see things floating across your field of vision.

This visual phenomenon is called “floaters” or sometimes “visual floaters”.

“They may look to you like black or gray specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly”, says IGARD’s Senior Consultant Optometrist Rachel Kelly, who has many years of experience in examining the eyes for visual floaters.

According to Rachel Kelly, eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (known as “vitreous”) inside your eyes becomes more liquid.

Some microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on your retina, which appear to you as floaters.

As a word of caution, a sudden increase in eye floaters can be a sign of problems. Please contact an eye specialist immediately — especially if you also see light flashes or lose your peripheral vision. These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention.

However, most visual floaters are relatively common and non-problematic. Despite the fact that this is a common problem, IGARD’s Senior Consultant Optometrist Yap Tiong Peng and colleagues in his research group, has previously reported four years ago on the American Journal of Ophthalmology that symptomatic visual floaters can still lead to a negative impact on quality-of-life. Getting the eyes checked regularly might just be the right thing to do.

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