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|Q. How can I be
tested for floaters?
Floaters are most easily seen when looking at a
homogeneous field such the open blue sky without the presence of
clouds (away from the sun!). A large white wall, well
illuminated, without anything on it will also work. You can
test both eyes open then with individual eyes. Because floaters
come and go, you must realize that you may not see any floaters
at one time and be able to see floaters at another time. If you
see a "floater" all the time in the same location that is bigger
than a dot or piece of hair, it may not be a floater, but
rather, it could be a sign of a retinal/vitreous hemmhorage (if
so see an eye doctor ASAP to be on the safe side).
To test yourself for floaters, look up at the sky (or
wall) and slowly move your eyes
all the way to the left and then all the way to the right,
back-and-forth, repeatedly, for about 15 seconds. If you have
floaters, as you move your eyes back-and-forth you'll see
something that moves with your eyes as the eyes move. If you
think that you see a floater then try to look directly at it.
What should happen is that as you try to look directly at it the
floater will appear to move in the same direction as your eyes
and you'll never really be able to look at the floater
"dead-on". This is because the floater is inside the eye and,
as a consequence, as you move your eyes the floater will also
move at the same speed and in the same direction as the eye
movements. If you look real closely, you may notice that when
you stop moving your eyes the floater(s) actually continues to
move, for a little while, in the same direction as the original
What do you look for and what do floaters look like?
Floaters can take-on a number of appearances. If the cells that
compose the floater are in focus, then the floater will appear
as a well defined single circle or small ring or group of
circles stuck together. If the cells that make-up the floater
are out-of-focus, the floater may look like a shadow of a small
object, a blob, a dull or dark string, or even look like a bug
with one or two arms.
It is common for people to see floaters particularly
older people, over the age of 30 or so. People that have a high
refractive error (need thick glasses) are also more prone to
floaters earlier in life. In general, floaters come and go and
nothing can be done about them - just learn to live with them.
However, if all of a sudden you see a lot of floaters or/and
have a large dark "shadow" in part of your visual field, you
should consult with your eye doctor.
Q. What causes
black floating spots in my vision?
Floaters are condensations of
cells in the gel part of the eye, known as the vitreous. Floaters
appear as dark spots, as web-like objects, as a dot with arms, or
strings. Floaters are often associated with high myopia (very
nearsightedness) and with aging. A lot of floaters my be a sign of
serious eye disease such as a retinal break, tear, or retinal
detachment. If you see a lot of floaters, suddenly, or see bright dots
or flashing lights, you need to see an Ophthalmologist immediately.
There is no treatment available for typical, nonpathologic, floaters.
Also see Vitamin A and Floaters
in this section.
|Q. I've been wanting to tell someone
about my experience with floaters in my eyes. I was taking
vitamins and eating a healthy diet, dried fruit
and vegetables and fruit juices. The skin on my feet started to crack,
my skin became dry and I developed floaters in both eyes so bad that the
nurse sent me to a specialist....I was consuming three to four times the
recommended vitamin A. I stopped taking vitamins. It's taken two years
and the floaters are gone. I seriously believe the vitamin A was to
blame. I would like to see a study done on this, since so many drinks
are adding vitamin A to fruit drinks our children are consuming.
Vitamin A is the active principle in carotene which has three
types; alpha, beta and gamma. Beta carotene is about twice as strong as
alpha and gamma. Vitamin A is essential in retinal function since the
rod photoreceptors are made-up of vitamin A (retinene, retinal) and a
protein substance called opsin. A vitamin A deficiency can cause
nightblindness and xerophthalmia (drying of the conjunctiva and
cornea). Deficiencies of vitamin A are rare, and usually occur as a
result of malabsorption (due to intestinal surgery for Chrone's disease
or Cystic fibrosis), liver disease (alcohol cirrhosis) or excessive
intake of vitamins C or E. Too much vitamin A, called hypervitaminosis
A, causes symptoms similar to a brain tumor including increased
intracranial pressure, blurred vision and swelling of the optic nerve (papilladema),
headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and a protruding of the front
of the head. Hypervitaminosis A occurs when daily intake exceeds about
50,000 IUs/day. However, the dosage that causes hypervitaminosis A
depends on body weight and may be substantially less if you're a female,
child or are of small stature.
Can hypervitaminosis A cause floaters? We were unable to
uncover any scientific evidence about such a link. However, since
hypervitaminosis A can cause papilledema it is possible that it could
also cause excessive floaters. Also, it is interesting that it took
almost two years for the floaters to disappear. Since vitamin A is
stored in the liver in relatively large amounts, it can take years for
excessive amounts of vitamin A to leave the body or, conversely, for a
vitamin A deficiency to develop after absorption is reduced. For
example, in Crohn's disease large amounts of the intestines are removed
and about 7 - 9 years later patients sometimes develop nightblindness
due to vitamin A deficiency. So the time frame of a few years for the
elimination of excessive amounts of vitamin A to leave the body and for
the floaters to disappear is the ball park.
Can hypervitaminosis A cause cracked feet? The scientific
literature is also moot on this point. Vitamin A is essential for
epithelial (skin) function so we would not eliminate the possibility
that excessive amounts of vitamin A could cause epithelial dysfunction -
including cracking feet and dry skin. We do agree that more research is
needed in the adverse consequences of excessive vitamin intake,
particularly since Americans consume large amounts of vitamins.
Web site visitors, if you have any personal experiences with
problems associated with supplemental vitamins please send us your
comments and we'll tabulate the comments in a future Featured Article on
the subject of supplemental vitamins and your vision.
|Q. [Why do I have] floaters in eye that
make cataract operation almost
If you have had a cataract operation
recently and have floaters so bad that it seems that the cataract
operation was worthless, you need to see your ophthalmologist ASAP.
Although some floaters are common in the elderly and in people with high
refractive errors, sometimes a lot of floaters is
a sign of a serious eye problem. Cataract surgery can result in
retinal tears and retinal detachments and one sign of these conditions
is a lot of floaters. If you have a retinal
tear or retinal detachment you may need eye surgery to prevent the
condition from getting worse and causing a permanent loss of vision.
Cataract surgery is very traumatic for the eye and sometimes the surgery
will generate quite a bit of floaters, but these should clear-up after a
|Q. About a year ago I was diagnosed with
high blood pressure. At the time I
also experienced flashing lights when in the dark and bright dots and
flashes. I also developed floaters in both eyes. My doctor thought
that I may have a small hemorrhage from the retina...Could the flashing
lights be the result of high blood pressure or is a detached retina a
A retinal hemorrhage can cause the
flashing lights and floaters that you are experiencing. High blood
pressure can also lead to a retinal hemorrhage, although you should also
be checked for diabetes. A retinal hemorrhage can also lead to a
retinal detachment so all of your conditions warrant close medical
|Q. I am a 17
year old male, and I am having trouble with my vision. I see floaters
all the time, I see halos around all lights at night time, and during
broad daylight I see dark flashes all the
time. It is really disturbing and scary. Can you tell me what is wrong?
You need to see an eye doctor ASAP.
Unless you are real nearsighted (myopic) you should not be seeing
floaters. Lots of floaters may be a sign of a retinal tear, detachment
or/and bleeding in the eye. Are you diabetic? Sometimes a retinal
hemorrhage as a result of diabetes will cause some of your symptoms.
You may have a serious eye problem and need to see an eye doctor NOW.
|Q. Vitamin A
and Isotretinoin and floaters? I took isotretinoin (13 cis-retinoic
acid) for acne and it gave me floaters...
Isotretinoin, commonly called
Accutane can cause a number of vision problems
including poor vision at night, corneal opacities and "visual
disturbances", possibly including floaters. Women who are pregnant or
who may become pregnant SHOULD NEVER use Accutane because it can cause
birth defects. Accutane can also cause a condition called pseudotumor
cerebri - the symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting and visual
disturbances. If you have these symptoms and are taking Accutane, you
should call your doctor immediately about stopping
the drug and see an ophthalmologist.
W. R. Bryan Diabetic Eye Disease Research Fund
2008 OLERF Annual Report (PDF file)
2009 OLERF Annual
Report (PDF file)
2010 OLERF Annual
Report (PDF file)
2011 OLERF Annual Rport