Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Floaters are opaque (i.e. too dense to see through) areas, such as small particles of debris, that float in the vitreous humour of the eye.

Floaters can occur in various different shapes and sizes, such as:

  • small dark / black dots
  • small shadowy dots
  • larger ‘cloud-like’ areas
  • longer, narrow strands e.g. with the appearance of tiny lengths of thread.

Such opacities, which are commonly called floaters, cast shadows onto the retina that may be perceived as dark shapes or blobs "floating" in the field of view.

Causes and effects:

Floaters can develop as part of the normal ageing process. Although some people may find them irritating or distracting (especially when tired), floaters do not usually interfere significantly with the affected person's overall vision.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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