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Eye Floaters: Symptoms, Causes & How To Get Rid Of Them

What are floaters?

Floaters (or Mouches Volantes) are one or more flecks/spots in your eye(s) that hinder your vision. The severeness depends on the location of the floater. The floater never stays on the same location. It normally moves every time you move your eye. This is also why it is difficult to look directly at the fleck or spot. 

Most people who have mouches volantes tend to notice them less over time and never get treated. However, when the floater keeps bothering you, there are several treatments that will be discussed later in the blog post. First, let’s take a look at the symptoms!

What are the Symptoms of floaters (Mouches Volantes)?

Most people will recognize floaters by different flecks or spots in their eyes. The spots float in your eye sight, but when you look into them, they tend to move to another location. 

The mouches volantes can come in different shapes and forms: 

  • Dark spots
  • Thread-like strands
  • Squiggly lines 
  • Cobwebs 
  • Rings
  • Flashes

Sometimes it can also happen that you can see a sort of “shadow” over one part of your eye. This can be treated as well!

Floaters or mouches volantes do normally not hurt. If it starts to hurt or appears after a cataract treatment you should immediately see a doctor or ophthalmologist. This could indicate different eye problems or disorders.

What causes floaters in my eyes?

Floaters typically appear when a person gets older. The jelly-like substance in your eye (called vitreous humor) becomes more liquid. This causes micro fibers to clump together and affect your vision. The “shadows” they cast on your retina are the floaters. 

Causes for floaters to appear could also be:

  • Retina detachment
  • Retinal tear, also known as a torn retina
  • Bleeding in your vitreous
  • Inflamed vitreous or retina caused by infections or an autoimmune condition

You are more likely to get floaters when you are nearsighted or have had a cataract surgery. If you have a floater in one eye, it is likely you also get floaters in the other eye.

How to get rid of them?

A surgery to get rid of the floaters is usually not the first solution that will be discussed. An ophthalmologist would first suggest to wait a few months and see if the symptoms diminish. When this is not the case, the ophthalmologist can suggest a floater laser treatment. There are typically four ways to get treated when you have floaters:  

  1. Doing nothing
    Most people get used to the floaters or mouches volantes. The spots can move to a different place which is not in your sight. Or your brains simply get used to them and start to ignore the mouches volantes.
  2. Conservatively 
    Some people respond well to simple treatments such as eye drops or special glasses. We can already advice on possible drops or glasses during the first consult. This, however, is only a solution to part of the people who struggle with mouches volantes. 
  3. Floater laser treatment 
    The floaters will be removed from the eye by a laser. This floater laser treatment uses anesthetic drops in your eye so you don’t feel anything during the procedure. Then they laser away the floater and your vision should be improved. This floater laser treatment is much safer compared to the vitrectomy treatment with less than < 0.1% chance on complication. However, do keep in mind that a laser treatment is not always possible and sometimes requires more than one treatment. 
  4. Surgically (vitrectomy)
    During a vitrectomy, the doctor removes the vitreous humor, which is jelly-like fluid, and replaces it with a saline, gas bubble or a silicon oil solution. This method has many possible complications but is also the most effective treatment against floaters. The most common complications are cataracts and retinal detachment. With modern surgical techniques, the chance of complications is about 1%. 

Floaters or mouches volantes are spots in your eye that are common for a lot of people. They do not disappear if you do not get a treatment, however your brains can get used to them! Our ophthalmologist, dr. Feike Gerbrandy, performed over 1 million floater laser treatments and is therefore the most experiences floater laser specialist in the world. Are your interested in a consult to find a solution for you floaters or other eye problems? Call us on +31 20 261 83 10 or send an email to! 

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