Site Map

Eye floaters

Specks in your vision


Eye floaters

I Would Like to Learn About:


The floating specks you sometimes see in front of your eyes are not on the surface of your eyes but inside them. They are made up of bits of cell debris that drift around in the fluid (vitreous) in the back of your eye. Floaters may look like spots, specks, bubbles, threads, or clumps. Most adults have at least a few floaters. There are times when they may be more visible than at other times, such as when you are reading, especially if the floater is dense or dark.

Most of the time floaters are harmless. However, they can be a symptom of a tear in the retina. If you notice a sudden increase in floaters or if you see floaters along with flashes of light in your side vision, this may be a symptom of a retinal tear or detachment. Go to an eye doctor or emergency room if you have these symptoms.


It is difficult to eliminate floaters. A vitrectomy can remove floaters, but it is a major eye operation and many doctors feel that it is too risky for a minor problem such as floaters. A YAG laser treatment can break up floaters and possibly make them less visible, but it doesn't really remove the floaters. Research is being done on femtosecond lasers (like the ones often used in LASIK) since this method may prove to be safer. Atropine eye drops, which slightly dilate the pupil, can make floaters less visible. However, the drops may cause blurred vision. Some homeopathic eye drops are marketed as treatment for floaters, but not been shown to have proven benefit.


Broadhead GK, Hong T, Chang AA. To treat or not to treat: management options for symptomatic vitreous floaters. Asia Pac J Ophthalmol (Phila). 2020;9(2):96-103. PMID: 32097127

Crouch ER, Crouch ER, Grant TR. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 17.

Guluma K, Lee JE. Ophthalmology. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 57.

Sun X, Tian J, Wang J, Zhang J, Wang Y, Yuan G. Nd:YAG Laser Vitreolysis for Symptomatic Vitreous Floaters: Application of Infrared Fundus Photography in Assessing the Treatment Efficacy. J Ophthalmol. 2019; 2019:8956952. PMID: 30809388

Souza CE, Lima LH, Nascimento H, Zett C, Belfort R. Objective assessment of YAG laser vitreolysis in patients with symptomatic vitreous floaters. Int J Retina Vitreous. 2020;6:1. PMID: 31988795

Woudstra-de Jong JE, Manning-Charalampidou SS, Vingerling H, Busschbach JJ, Pesudovs K. Patient-reported outcomes in patients with vitreous floaters: a systematic literature review. Surv Ophthalmol. 2023;68(5):875-888. PMID: 37315741


Review Date: 11/8/2023  

Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo
Health Content Provider

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complied with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information from 1995 to 2022, after which HON (Health On the Net, a not-for-profit organization that promoted transparent and reliable health information online) was discontinued.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2024 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.