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Why do I have floating spots in my eyes?

Figure out whether your eye floaters are harmful or harmless

A close-up of a woman's blue eye with floating spots
A close-up of a woman's blue eye with floating spots

What did one eye say to the other eye?

Between you and me, something smells.

OK, now that we’ve broken the ice (eye-ce?), let’s talk about one of the most common eye conditions – eye floaters.

What are eye floaters?

Kim Bui from nib Eye Care explains,

"Floaters or 'spots' can appear as small squiggles or bubbles that move through your field of vision. They tend to become more noticeable when you look at a bright object, but in most cases they don’t interfere with your vision – they’re just irritating.”

So for most of us, floaters are annoying but harmless. In fact, you might not even notice them after a while, because your eyes will just tune them out. However, floaters can become an issue if they’re so large that they block your vision.

“When floaters form a shadow that hinders your vision, it’s a good idea to visit your optometrist to discuss treatment options,” Kim says.

Credit: nib health insurance

What causes eye floaters or ‘spots’?

Kim explains that floaters are mainly formed by a protein called collagen which sits in a part of your eye called the vitreous. The collagen in the vitreous can change shape and cast a shadow on the retina, which then results in the floaters.

"Floaters are generally a normal part of the ageing process, especially for those over 55, but they can be caused by a number of other diseases or conditions. Inflammation in the eye (which can be caused by infections or inflammatory disease), bleeding in the eye (which could be due to hypertension, diabetes, blocked blood vessels or injury), tears in your retina or even certain medications could make you more prone to experience floaters."

Many of us will experience eye floaters at one stage or another and they are mostly harmless. However, Kim recommends visiting your optometrist if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters

  • Eye pain or discomfort

  • Light flashes

  • Loss of vision

  • Changes that come on quickly and get worse over time

  • Floaters after eye surgery or eye trauma

Whether or not you experience floaters, it’s important to have your eyes tested by an optometrist at least every two years and more regularly if you notice any eye problems. There are nib Eye Care Centres located across Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne and you can book an appointment here.

Alternatively, visit nib First Choice Optical network to help you to search for local optometrists; it's our community of specially selected health providers, who have promised they will deliver quality care and value for money.

If you’ve got Amazon Alexa, you can use the nib Skill to find healthcare providers in your area, get daily health tips and answer your biggest health insurance questions. It’s as easy as saying ‘Alexa, ask nib…’ Visit our dedicated page to find out more about the nib Skill available on Alexa.

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