Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about treatment and research into eye floaters
Questions about One Clear Vision
Questions about eye floaters
- What are eye floaters?
According to the the NHS Choices website, eye floaters are ‘small pieces of debris that float in the vitreous humour of the eye’. The ‘debris’ may be due to a change in the vitreous humour itself, and the result is mobile shadows cast onto the retina. It is generally understood that the majority of people experience eye floaters to some degree – although in most cases the symptoms are mild and of no cause for concern. People with severe eye floaters can experience very troubling quality of life issues – a situation which can be compounded if these are not recognised by their medical practitioners.
- What causes eye floaters?
The shadows experienced as eye floaters may be caused by ‘debris’ (for example blood cells due to injury) or they may be caused by a change in the structure of the vitreous humour itself (for example liquefaction of the vitreous or posterior vitreous detachment). These shadows may vary in size and intensity for any individual at different times depending on their physiological cause, and the visual environment.
It can be difficult to diagnose eye floaters as the subjective impact of vitreous opacities can be greater that is evident to a doctor examining the eye. Some new technologies may offer improvement in this area, such as DRI OCT.
Eye floaters are generally understood to be a natural part of the aging process, and as such are generally associated with older patients. However, they can occur in younger people – and in these cases the quality of life issues associated with eye floaters can be pronounced. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest floaters can be a factor in mild to severe depression.
- How can I get help and support for my eye floaters?
Eye professionals are becoming increasingly aware of eye floaters as a condition worthy of attention in their own right, however historically they have been perceived as benign and not worthy of attention unless linked to a sight-threatening pathology (such as retinal detachment). As a result it is still not uncommon for people complaining of eye floaters to be told they have nothing to worry about, or even that a ‘psychological factor’ might contribute to an ‘obsessive’ response to floaters. This may or may not be the case depending on the individual.
Online communities are perhaps the most readily available forums for support for people experiencing troubling eye floaters, although these are generally unmoderated by professionals and therefore are primarily of use to form social connections and offer emotional support rather than validated advice on treatment options.
At the time of writing there is currently no dedicated support service for eye floaters, and people are advised to contact their ophthalmologist in the first instance, with the aim of finding a medical professional able to offer constructive medical advice and sympathetic response to their experience of floaters.
- I’m worried about losing my sight because of eye floaters, can this happen?
Eye floaters in themselves will not cause vision loss, although a sudden onset of floaters can be a symptom of a more seriously pathology and immediate medical attention should be sought in this circumstance.
Eye floaters sometimes improve over time as opacities in the vitreous may disperse, fragment into smaller pieces or sink out of view. However they may also remain in the vitreous without significant improvement for many years.
- Why don’t people understand why I’m struggling with eye floaters?
The majority of the population have mild floaters that might be visible when looking directly up into a clear blue sky or at a white wall. These floaters are generally imperceptible and only noticed occasionally – it is probably fair to say that they hardly qualify as a medical problem. The ‘squiggly line skit’ in Family Guy is an appropriately humorous look at these mild eye floaters.
The presence of very severe eye floaters that constantly obstruct the central field of vision, or that occupy a large amount of the vitreous causing many mobile shadows is a more rare phenomenon that many people will have never heard of or experienced. They are likely to confuse this potentially disabling and difficult condition with the mild form of floaters described above. Furthermore, floaters present no outward signs or symptoms of a physiological problem, rather like a visual equivalent of tinnitus. For the person affected, it is likely that they will need to be given the opportunity to try to explain and communicate the experience and how it is affecting them before others will understand the condition and their situation.
- I find it hard to study and concentrate with eye floaters – what should I do?
Certain environments and tasks can make floaters more troublesome, such as brightly lit rooms and computer monitors. Wearing sunglasses can help to reduce the visibility of certain types of eye floaters as a more dilated pupil will allow more light into the eye, making the shadows less defined and dense on the retina. Reducing the contrast of computer monitors can also help.
When studying it can be useful to arrange items on the desk to minimise eye ball movements, so that the floaters are less agitated in the field of vision. Some people may also find it easier to study at certain times of day when they are less bothered by their floaters.
In more severe cases it may be virtually impossible to remain undistracted from eye floaters. Some people with severe eye floaters have been known to switch to night-time employment in order to reduce awareness of them as much as possible.
- Now that I have eye floaters, I can’t enjoy the things I used to – what should I do?
Eye floaters can present challenging quality of life issues for people who rely on their vision to fully participate in leisure activities, hobbies, and work. It may be possible to reduce the symptoms of eye floaters by using sunglasses or changing the lighting conditions of the activity. For some people it may be necessary to find new activities that place less emphasis on their vision. It would be worth discussing options with a medical professional before making any major decisions.
- Will my eye floaters improve over time?
There are no certain answers as to whether a person’s eye floaters will improve over time. This has been reported, but some people claim their floaters stay the same while others might describe them as getting worse. The best approach is to monitor the status of your eye floaters every few months, by assessing how much you notice them in a particular environment where the lighting conditions are the same. If you notice your eye floaters become worse in a short space of time make sure you consult a medical professional.
Questions about treatment and research into eye floaters
- What treatment options are available for eye floaters?
Currently a surgical vitrectomy to remove the vitreous from the eye is the only procedure that can remove eye floaters, however it is a highly invasive operation which carries significant risks. Some doctors also offer a laser treatment surgery than can break up large floaters into small pieces or in some cases ‘vapourise’ the floaters. However this technique has not been approved by medical authorities so patients should be cautious when trying to determine whether they are suitable candidates, and be sure to perform a full background check on any potential clinic offering treatment.
- Where can I get treatment for my eye floaters?
There is a directory of surgeons and doctors listed on the One Clear Vision website. However, this is not a formally approved list and a large degree of discretion is advised when contacting any doctor regarding treatment for eye floaters.
- Can you recommend a doctor to treat my eye floaters?
One Clear Vision does not endorse or support any individual doctors or types of treatment for eye floaters. The charity is an independent organisation aimed at raising awareness of eye floaters as a medical problem and providing information to patients. In addition One Clear Vision does not guarantee the accuracy of any information on its website.
- Is anyone doing any research into new treatments for eye floaters?
At the time of writing we do not know of any organisation conducting research into eye floaters specifically. However we welcome any updates in this area and will aim to update the website when further information becomes available.
- When will there be a new treatment for eye floaters?
Again, at the time of writing there will be no new treatments for eye floaters in the foreseeable future.
Questions about One Clear Vision
- What is OCV and who runs the organisation?
One Clear Vision is a volunteer led organisation set up by people affected by eye floaters. There are no full time employees of One Clear Vision. The trustees and directors are based in the UK. Emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org are normally received within a week, although not all of them will be responded to due to current limitations on our resources.
- Can OCV offer any treatments for eye floaters?
No, One Clear Vision does not offer any treatments, nor do we endorse any particular treatment or medical professionals offering any types of treatment. We are an independent organisations set up to provide impartial information about eye floaters.
- What services does OCV provide?
We aim to provide information about eye floaters that can help support patients in making a decision about how to deal with their eye floaters and whether or not to pursue treatment. In the long term we aim to promote better understanding of the condition by medical professionals and research into improved treatment options.
- Can I speak to someone from OCV directly?
Unfortunately One Clear Vision cannot offer any direct or one-to-one support to individuals suffering with eye floaters, as the charity is run by volunteers offering their spare time around other full-time commitments. If you have a query that is not answered on this page you can email email@example.com and a member of the team will endeavour to get back to you within 2 weeks.
- Can I get involved with One Clear Vision and help progress the aims of the charity?
We welcome offers of support from anyone keen to progress the aims of the charity, in particular those with personal experience of floaters, medical professionals interested in developing knowledge in this field and also anyone able to offer business or third sector development expertise. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved or work with us.
Enquiries regarding financial support or investment for One Clear Vision can also be sent to email@example.com