Eye Floater Diagnoses

During a typical eye exam, the ophthalmologist will look for vitreous opacities using slit-lamp stereo fundus biomicrosopy.

Floaters in the front section of the eye are often readily observed by an ophthalmologist. However, if the floater is near the retina, it may not be visible to the observer even if it appears large to the sufferer. A B-scan ocular ultrasound examination can help diagnose vitreous syneresis and posterior vitreous detachment.

Identification of floaters may be aided by dynamic examination during eye movements.  To increase the chance of finding the floater the ophthalologist should ask the patient to look straight ahead, fixate on the macula and have the patient look in at 6 a’clock and then straight ahead again. This should be repeated in the 3-9 and 12 a’clock positions. Most floaters can be found this way. If a patients complains of difficulty reading, special emphasis should be put on the 6 o’clock position. Often there is an anterior-inferior floater that can only be found this way.

Floaters can cause glare (straylight). This can be measured with a special device. A good alternative is having the patient fixate on a light and asking them to look in the 6-3-9-12 o’clock positions. The patient can experience increased glare as the floater flies by.

For the person with eye floaters it is useful to attempt to assess functional visual acuity over time and the continual visual disturbance that they experience. One Clear Vision is working with doctors to develop an objective measure of severity which we hope will aid in the assessment of risks and potential benefits of intervention. These measures may involve vitreous imaging or quality of life questionnaires.

Further reading

  • Sebag, J. “To See the Invisible: The Quest of Imaging Vitreous.” Developments in ophthalmology 42 (2008): 5–28. Print.
  • Wagle, Ajeet M et al. “Utility Values Associated with Vitreous Floaters.” American journal of ophthalmology 152 (2011): 60–65.e1. Print.