CausesBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Eye floaters may be caused by:
Jan. 17, 2015
- Age-related eye changes. Eye floaters most commonly occur as a result of age-related changes in the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that fills your eyeballs and helps maintain their round shape. Over time, the vitreous partially liquefies — a process that causes it to pull away from the eyeball's interior surface. As the vitreous shrinks and sags, it clumps and gets stringy. Bits of this debris block some of the light passing through the eye, casting tiny shadows on your retina.
- Inflammation in the back of the eye. Posterior uveitis is inflammation in the layers of the uvea in the back of the eye. Posterior uveitis, which can cause eye floaters, may be caused by infection or inflammatory diseases, among other causes.
- Bleeding in the eye. Bleeding into the vitreous can have many causes, including injury and blood vessel problems.
- Torn retina. Retinal tears can occur when a sagging vitreous tugs on the retina with enough force to tear it. Without treatment, retinal tear may lead to retinal detachment — an accumulation of fluid behind the retina that causes it to separate from the back of your eye. Untreated retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.
- Facts about floaters. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/floaters/floaters.asp. Accessed Nov. 6, 2014.
- Sendrowski DP, et al. Current treatment for vitreous floaters. Optometry. 2010;81:157.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=40. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.
- Riordan-Eva P, et al. Vaughan & Asbury's General Ophthalmology. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=720. Accessed Nov. 7, 2014.