What Are Those Squiggly Eye Floaters? Do I Need to Be Concerned?

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Our field of vision opens up a whole new world, allowing us to experience colors, familiar faces, breathtaking landscapes, and everything in between. The gift of sight is something we often take for granted — well, until we notice that something just isn’t quite right.



Have you ever experienced small, squiggly floaters in your eyes? Similar to these?

These mysterious, almost dust-like floaters can appear out of nowhere — but what the heck are they? Do you need to be concerned? If you have been experiencing this phenomenon, it’s important to be aware of all potential causes.

Related: 6 Easy Fixes For Better Eye Health

Hey, eye floaters, what are you?

I’d just like to start out by saying, floaters are a normal phenomenon and boatloads of people experience them. So if you were in a panic, no need to worry — they are an indication that a natural process is occurring, as the eye changes with age.

Based on optometrists’ reports, floaters aren’t uncommon. In fact, one study, published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, found that each optometrist expects an average of 14 patients each month who complain of floaters. Within a separate study, out of 603 people, 74 percent reported floaters — with only one-third complaining of significant issues regarding their vision.

To break it down, our eyes are filled with a jelly-like substance known as vitreous. This is what helps maintain the shape of your eyeball and since it’s clear, light easily passes through. As we age, this substance remains clear, however, it becomes more of a liquid state. As cells and fibers clump together, they cast shadows on your retina — resulting in those weird floating specks you see.

As vitreous become more liquefied, regular movement causes turbulence. Clumps ride around in the liquid — when you try to focus or “look” at one of these specks, they appear to move away. That is because they are physically moving with the movement of your eye

Let’s take a big breath — a sigh of relief if you will — because for the most part, these floaters aren’t generally something you need to worry about. Yes, they’re generally not a cause for concern, but if you do notice dramatic changes, something serious may be the cause.

When do I need to be concerned?

Unless truly worrisome, floaters are not a reason to panic. Simply make an appointment with your optometrist so that a more thorough examination can be done, increasing overall peace of mind. With that being said, if you notice an increase in floaters, paired with a flash of light, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

Why?

Well, this may be a sign of retinal detachment, something you cannot physically feel. You need to rely on these two key symptoms to warn you that something may be abnormal. Immediate surgery will be required and without it, individuals can experience long-term vision complications, including blindness.

Another key cause of “floaters” is diabetes or extremely high blood pressure — due to bleeding in the eye. In some cases, an infection is to blame, as inflammation increases. Regardless of the potential cause, any major changes regarding your vision, including worsening floaters, is a reason to seek assistance.

Is there something I can do?

We all age — that much is certain. With that being said, you can potentially reduce eye floaters by, you guessed it, eating well and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Our eyes may seem unrelated to our liver, kidneys and blood, but they are all connected and in order to prevent the buildup of toxic waste, proper nutrition is key.

To support kidney and liver health, essentially benefiting your eyes, it’s important to consume clean, blood-building foods, such as dark leafy greens, beets and figs. In order to prevent diminishing vision, as well as a wide range of chronic diseases, the key is variety — consume a colorful diet, full of nutrient-rich whole foods.

If you have been noticing eye floaters, it’s recommended that you have them examined, especially if you have noticed changes in terms of frequency and/or severity. At the end of the day, we only have two eyes, just as we have only one heart and brain — we need to take care of these essential organs and internal systems.

Being proactive against eye floaters — along with your general well-being — instead of reactive, can help you maintain a higher quality of life for years to come. After all, there’s nothing more beautiful than a morning sunrise, a loved one’s smile, or a freshly bloomed garden — don’t take your vision for granted, it’s a magical part of life.

—Krista Hillis

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  • llprince

    The first symptom I had of the onset of Lyme disease was eye floaters. That was followed quickly by weakness, fatigue, fever, piercing head pain, on & on…but first was floaters!

  • Jake Carney

    do you still have floaters?

  • llprince

    Nope. I was lucky. The ER doctor that saw me looked right at all the symptoms (including rash!) and missed the diagnosis, but my regular doc caught it immediately & started me on antibiotics. No reoccurrence in 5 years since. But those floaters were so distinct, I kept trying to brush them away! I thought it was a hair in front of my eyes or something…VERY weird.

  • Jake Carney

    Thanks for replying. I have them. Seeing them right now.

  • llprince

    Jake, I hope it has nothing to do with Lyme. That can be devastating, especially if the docs don’t pick it up. If it’s just floaters with no other symptoms, yet they came on suddenly or seem unusually bad, I’d head to the ophthalmologist’s office ASAP.

  • Jacquie Maurice

    I’m 51 and have been seeing them since I was a kid. I didn’t even think about it til I saw this article. But mine are much more organized and massed. Its hard to say, but they look like fields of joined hexagonal or octagonal lit-up patterns. Subdued colours, but colours. They drift around on their own until I make an effort, then at will I can shove them left right up down. I always thought it was fun, but kinda pointless.

  • Patty

    I practice and teach Medicical QiGong, and there are procedures I’ve learned to enhance eye health.

    A good preventative as well as immediate treatment to address eye floaters is:
    1) Looking up and rolling the eyes around the outer limit of vision in a clockwise fashion a dozen times.
    2) Doing this the other direction.
    3)Casting gaze up to down, about a hundred times.

    4) Casting gaze right to left about a hundred times.
    5)Focusing on a point 6 inches in front of the eyes (a raised finger works great), then immediately focusing on a point about 6-60 feet away. Do this a dozen times.

    ^ All these exercises should be done with a relaxed body and a stationary head.

    Be well!

  • Brother Lawrence

    I have had floaters for about 3 years. I was walking down the street one day and a bird attacked me. I think I had walked past a tree with a nest in it. The bird continued to fly around me enough (for almost a block) so that I had to put up an aggressive guard to protect myself. That was very strange to me. I got into my vehicle about two blocks away and noticed something in my eye. I tried tro rub it out, but it kept coming back. I went to the doctors about less than a week later and was diagnosed with floaters (some medical term was used). The docter was not alarmed, so I wasn’t too alarmed either; maybe not happy, but not alarmed. I am sure that the quick jarring of my head when the bird attacked me casued the floaters to come up (the gel to get loose). The doctor didn’t seem to agree, but I am sure of it. About a year ago, I went to see a movie in 3D. It (the glassses affect) made the floaters worse. They did not get much better after that. I will not go to see any more 3D movies. Another thing about the floaters is that they can make it seem like something, or someone is there when it is not. The movement in your eye can make it seem like something or someone is on the side of you, but it is only the floaters. It has caused me to jump a couple of times, but I am a little used to it now. The floaters are a pest, but seemingly not very harmful. I hope this can be helpful to some one.

  • llprince

    Ooo! You made me remember the ones I had as a kid! Very similar to what you describe and I found them kinda amusing too : ) The point is, they usually don’t mean a darn thing. As an adult (excepting their malevolent cousins when I had Lyme), I don’t see them any more… and kinda miss the little guys. I liked the colors. Ah, childhood…

  • llprince

    What a weird experience! Well, take good care of yourself, and especially your eyes… I’m sure the eyes reflect the health of the entire body to a large extent.

  • cp

    taking turmeric reduces the inflammation in your body which also helps the floaters in the eyes.