Diagnosis

Your eye care specialist conducts a complete eye exam to determine the cause of your eye floaters. Your exam usually includes eye dilation. Eye drops widen (dilate) the dark center of your eye. This allows your specialist to better see the back of your eyes and the vitreous.

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Treatment

Most eye floaters don't require treatment. However, any medical condition that is the cause of eye floaters, such as bleeding from diabetes or inflammation, should be treated.

Eye floaters can be frustrating and adjusting to them can take time. Once you know the floaters will not cause any more problems, over time you may be able to ignore them or notice them less often.

If your eye floaters get in the way of your vision, which happens rarely, you and your eye care specialist may consider treatment. Options may include surgery to remove the vitreous or a laser to disrupt the floaters, although both procedures are rarely done.

  • Surgery to remove the vitreous. An ophthalmologist who is a specialist in retina and vitreous surgery removes the vitreous through a small incision (vitrectomy). The vitreous is replaced with a solution to help your eye maintain its shape. Surgery may not remove all the floaters, and new floaters can develop after surgery. Risks of a vitrectomy include infection, bleeding and retinal tears.
  • Using a laser to disrupt the floaters. An ophthalmologist aims a special laser at the floaters in the vitreous (vitreolysis). This may break up the floaters and make them less noticeable. Some people who have this treatment report improved vision; others notice little or no difference. Risks of laser therapy include damage to your retina if the laser is aimed incorrectly.

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Preparing for your appointment

If you're concerned about eye floaters, make an appointment with a specialist in eye disorders (optometrist or ophthalmologist) for an eye exam. If you have complications that require treatment, you'll need to see an ophthalmologist. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including situations that increase eye floaters you see or times when you see fewer eye floaters
  • All medications, vitamins, herbs and other supplements you take, and the dosages
  • Questions to ask your eye care specialist to help you make the most of your appointment

For eye floaters, some basic questions to ask include:

  • Why do I see these eye floaters?
  • Will they always be there?
  • What can I do to prevent more from occurring?
  • Are there treatments available?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take? What websites do you recommend?
  • Do I need a follow-up appointment, and, if so, when?

What to expect from your doctor

Your eye care specialist is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did your eye floaters begin?
  • Which eye has the floaters?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Have you recently noticed an increase in the number of floaters?
  • Have you seen light flashes?
  • Does anything seem to improve or worsen your symptoms?
  • Have you ever had eye surgery?
  • Do you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure?
Sept. 07, 2022
  1. What are floaters and flashes? American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-floaters-flashes. Accessed May 26, 2022.
  2. Floaters. National Eye Institute. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/floaters. Accessed May 26, 2022.
  3. Floaters. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye-disorders/symptoms-of-ophthalmologic-disorders/floaters. Accessed May 26, 2022.
  4. Buttaravoli P, et al., eds. Floaters. In: Minor Emergencies. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2021. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 26, 2022.
  5. Uveitis. National Eye Institute. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/uveitishttps://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/uveitishttps://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/uveitis. Accessed May 26, 2022.
  6. What is a vitrectomy. American Academy of Ophthalmologists. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/what-is-vitrectomy. Accessed May 26, 2022.
  7. Lin T, et al. The efficacy and safety of YAG laser vitreolysis for symptomatic vitreous floaters of complete PVD or non-PVD. Ophthalmology and Therapy. 2022; doi:10.1007/s40123-021-00422-6.
  8. Charles S. Vitreous. In: Vaughan & Asbury's General Ophthalmology. 19th ed. The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2018. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed May 27, 2022.
  9. Chodnicki K (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. June 6, 2022.