How do we see eye floaters

FloatersIndications The so-called “floaters” are cloudiness in the field of vision that is mainly visible against a light background. They float by when the eyes move and can be perceived as uncomfortable and annoying. As a rule, it is collagen fibers gathered together in the vitreous humor of the eye that cast a shadow on the retina and scatter the light. Risk factors include age, myopia, and eye diseases. Immediate ophthalmological clarification is indicated if the floaters suddenly appear increasingly and if they are accompanied by flashes of light or visual disturbances. Usually the opacities are not treated. In severe cases, resolution with a laser or surgery is possible.

synonymous: vitreous opacities, flying mosquitoes, floaters, vitreous floaters, eye floaters


Mouches volantes ("flying flies", "flying mosquitos") are small, gray, transparent and fuzzy opacities in the field of vision that look like spots, threads or points. They are mainly subjectively visible against a light and white background and float past with a delay when the eyes are moved. These vitreous opacities can be perceived as annoying. They can interfere with reading, driving, watching TV, and using computers.


The eye is filled with a gel-like substance between the lens and the retina, which mainly consists of water, collagen and hyaluronic acid. This glass body is transparent and allows light to fall unhindered onto the retina. With advancing age it becomes increasingly liquefied.

The floaters are usually collagen fibers that are located in the vitreous humor. They cast a shadow on the retina, scatter the light and thus disrupt perception.

Risk factors include:

  • Age - however, the cloudiness can already appear in young people.
  • myopia
  • Eye diseases, eye injuries, bleeding, eye inflammation
  • Posterior vitreous detachment
  • Diabetes (retinopathy)

If many of the points suddenly appear or if there are additional flashes of light and visual disturbances, the patient should seek medical treatment immediately, as it could be a detachment of the retina.


The diagnosis is made by an ophthalmologist.


As a rule, no treatment is necessary for benign floaters. Patients should not concentrate on the "floaters" and get used to them. For severe cases, there are therapeutic options at the ophthalmologist:

  • In laser vitreolysis, the particles are broken down with an Nd: YAG laser. This method can be performed on an outpatient basis, is non-invasive and is considered to be relatively safe.
  • In a vitrectomy, a portion of the vitreous is surgically removed. This procedure is more risky and rarely performed.
  • Gandhi J.S. Nd: YAG vitreolysis as a treatment for vitreous floaters. Eye (Lond), 2003, 17 (1), 113 Pubmed
  • Kahawita S., Simon S., Gilhotra J. Flashes and floaters - a practical approach to assessment and management. Aust Fam Physician, 2014, 43 (4), 201-3 Pubmed
  • Textbooks / guidelines in ophthalmology
  • Mason J.O. et al. Safety, efficacy, and quality of life following sutureless vitrectomy for symptomatic vitreous floaters. Retina, 2014, 34 (6), 1055-61 Pubmed
  • Roufail E.D., Polkinghorne P. Vitreous floaters. Compr Ophthalmol Update, 2006, 7 (4), 171-7 Pubmed
  • Sebag J. Floaters and the quality of life. Am J Ophthalmol, 2011, 152 (1), 3-4 Pubmed
  • Sendrowski D.P., Bronstein M.A. Current treatment for vitreous floaters. Optometry, 2010, 81 (3), 157-61 Pubmed
  • Webb B.F. et al. Prevalence of vitreous floaters in a community sample of smartphone users. Int J Ophthalmol, 2013, 6 (3), 402-5 Pubmed

Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on October 11, 2019.
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