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Are Eye Floaters Dangerous?

Seeing stars isn’t all that uncommon. Whether you stood up too quickly, completed a super tough workout, went too long without eating, or looked directly at the sun, there’s a good chance you’ve had temporary disturbances in your vision. 

Heck, just squeezing your eyes closed tightly can cause constellation-like images to manifest. 

Usually, these starry sights are temporary, harmless, and can be directly attributed to a clear cause (like low blood sugar from not eating, or physical overexertion). But what if you see stars, black spots, squiggles, and lines on a regular basis — and you can’t pinpoint a reason? 

You might be experiencing floaters, a vision phenomenon that Dr. Michael Ragen, ophthalmologist at Ventura Eye Institute in Camarillo, California, treats often. Here’s what you should know about eye floaters, including whether they’re dangerous. 

What are eye floaters?

According to the National Eye Institute, eye floaters are “small dark spots or squiggly lines that float across your vision,” diagnosed through a dilated eye exam. 

These dark splotches may come and go, and they usually move with your vision. That is, when you adjust your line of sight to look at a floater, it disappears. Some people find floaters to be more significant when they look at bright light and light colors.

Causes of eye floaters

Most cases of eye floaters are age-related, the National Eye Institute reports. As you get older, your eyeballs undergo changes just like the rest of your body. Specifically, the gel-like substance in your eyes called vitreous begins to clump and cast shadows, which your retina picks up as dark spots. 

Anyone can develop floaters, but people with the following conditions are thought to have a higher risk:

Taking certain medications or having certain surgeries may also increase your risk of developing floaters.

Are eye floaters dangerous? 

Eye floaters usually don’t pose a risk, the National Eye Institute says, although the Mayo Clinic encourages you to seek immediate medical attention if you suddenly develop floaters or your floaters suddenly get worse, as these can be signs of a medical emergency. 

A sudden onset of floaters may indicate that your retina has torn and potentially detached, meaning you would likely need care from an ophthalmologist. If you’re experiencing flashes of light in addition to floaters, or floaters that are so severe they significantly impact your vision, you may need treatment. 

The type of treatment you receive depends on what’s causing your floaters.

Concerned about eye floaters? Come visit Ventura Eye Institute to get your vision checked. Call our Camarillo, California, office at 805-388-1211 or book your appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Ragen, Dr. Kyle Huynh, and the team here on our website.

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