CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Eye floaters may be caused by:
- Age-related eye changes. Eye floaters most commonly occur as a result of age-related changes in the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that fills your eyeballs and helps maintain their round shape. Over time, the vitreous changes in consistency and partially liquefies — a process that causes it to shrink and pull away from the interior surface of the eyeball. As the vitreous shrinks and sags, it clumps up and gets stringy. Bits of this debris block some of the light passing through the eye, casting tiny shadows on your retina.
- Inflammation in the back of the eye. Posterior uveitis is inflammation in the layers of the uvea in the back of the eye. Posterior uveitis, which can cause eye floaters, may be caused by infection or inflammatory diseases, among other causes.
- Bleeding in the eye. Vitreous hemorrhage is bleeding into the eye's jelly-like vitreous. Bleeding in the eye can have many causes, including injury and blood vessel problems.
- Torn retina. Retinal tears can occur when a sagging vitreous tugs on the retina with enough force to tear it. A retinal tear may cause new floaters to appear in your vision. Without treatment, retinal tear may lead to retinal detachment — an accumulation of fluid behind the retina that causes it to separate from the back of your eye. Untreated retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.
- Charles S, et al. Vitreous. In: Riodan-Eva P, et al. Vaughan & Asbury's General Ophthalmology. 17th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=19. Accessed Dec. 21, 2011.
- Differential diagnosis of ocular symptoms. In: Ehlers JP, et al. The Wills Eye Manual: Office and Emergency Room Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Disease. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008. http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&NEWS=N&PAGE=booktext&D=books&AN=01337416/5th_Edition/3&XPATH=/OVIDBOOK%5b1%5d/METADATA%5b1%5d/TBY%5b1%5d/EDITORS%5b1%5d. Accessed Dec. 21, 2011.
- Sendrowski DP, et al. Current treatment for vitreous floaters. Optometry. 2010;81:157.
- Facts about floaters. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/floaters/floaters.asp. Accessed Dec. 21, 2011.
- Retinal detachment: Torn or detached retina treatment. EyeSmart. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/detached-torn-retina-treatment.cfm. Accessed Dec. 27, 2011.