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Have you ever noticed a floating spot in your field of view? Particles suspended in the fluid inside the eye cast shadows on the retina (the tissue that perceives light) creating dark spots.

Dr. Bates believed that floaters are optical illusions due to eye strain. Ths is totally contrary to what we know.

Kaiser Permanente reveals:

Most people have had the experience of seeing "floaters" at one time or another. In certain light conditions it becomes easier to see the many small, floating optical impurities contained within the normal eye. These floaters that everyone sees from time to time are of no medical concern.

A different situation occurs with the perception of a sudden onset of new floating shapes in one's field of vision. These very sudden, "new" floaters may appear as dots, bubbles, strings, nets, cobwebs, and may be few in number or very many. Suddenly seen, "new" floaters may be associated with an injury to the retina that is important to repair early on. Even if the floaters seem to go away within a few days or weeks it is important to have the eye checked for any associated injury.

Thus floaters of long standing are of no concern; the sudden appearance of new floating shapes in the field of vision may be associated with an internal eye damage and needs to have an eye check performed. Ideally, this is done within two weeks of noticing the "new" floaters. If you are diabetic, mention that to the appointment person.

To check the eye when new floating shapes have suddenly appeared, make an appointment with the Kaiser Permanente ophthalmology department nearest you. You will have both eyes dilated for the exam, so arrange for a driver if you do not feel confident driving with your eyes dilated.

Once dilated, your retina will be viewed with an instrument to assure no injury has taken place. This is not painful; the examiner will use a bright headlamp to look in your eye.

Most people suffer no injury from the sudden appearance of new floating shapes. If this is so, your examiner will reassure you that all is well. Unless you are advised otherwise, no further exam is necessary. After weeks to months the shadows will cease to be present or simply will not trouble you. Should you ever suddenly notice new shadows, return to ophthalmology for a re-check within two weeks of onset, even if the shadows clear after a few days or weeks.

Your exam in not intended to make the new floaters go away. There is no medical or surgical treatment that will speed up their departure. Only time will help clear or eliminate the bother of the "new" floaters. Sudden appearance of new floaters is part of the aging process that some people experience and does not mean eye health is poor. Reading, sewing, and other close work is in no way connected to the new floaters, and these activities should be continued without hesitation.


That's the technical side. Most ophthalmologists say that nothing can be done about floaters. They are not serious. Not to worry.

But more revealing is actual conversation between two people with floaters.

When our friend Torrey got them he panicked…he thought something was terribly wrong with his eyes! They are somewhat scary if you don't know what's going on. After he wrote to Dick about them I decided to plunge in and straighten him out.

To Torrey:


Sixteen years ago I had cataract surgery and lens implants behind the cornea. Since that time I've had floaters.

I've quit batting at flies out on walks, or skimming foreign objects from my soup in restaurants. About the time you get used to one set of floaters they up and switch positions and it's a whole new ballgame.

I've rather enjoyed floaters over the 16 years I've had 'em...the scene changes all the time, day to day, week to week. Pity the poor suckers with nothing else to look at! I've been through the *batting at flies* stage when I'm out street walking, and the *dipping them outta my soup* stage when in restaurants. Just like everything else that Murphy sends...Acceptance is the answer! Relax and enjoy the movie on the ceiling when you lie down for a nap. It's black and white, and the dancers have funny shapes…but what they hey…it's a free show and it's *playing* whenever you want to watch it! That's better than the Cine-Plex!

I's enough to gag a maggot, but whatchagonnado?


From Torrey:


I contemplated your tale of floaters causing you to swat at flies. I decided that would be my fate, until I learned to cope. I was thinking, "I'll be glad when 16 years have passed and I ain't bothered with them so much."

Yesterday, Conna told me the hummingbird feeders were dry, and directed me to refill them. I brought them in the house, put them in the kitchen sink, and started brewing up some nectar. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see little black things darting about. I thought, "Dang! The floaters are really kicking in today."

They were so real looking, I could almost feel them crawling on my arm. By golly! I can feel them crawling on my arm. I switched to a pair of close range spectacles and discovered those floaters were black ants. I must have hauled in a couple dozen ants with one of the feeders. Being a soft hearted sucker, who hates to kill anything, I flushed them down the drain. Maybe they can swim. It's out of my hands now.

The moral to the story is: Sometimes those floater look-alikes are really bugs.

Swinging, swatting and flushing in Plumb Nelly.

Your friend and mine, cbtorrey1

Just remember if you ever get floaters, and you probably will, you are not alone! Remember too, that when Grandma was flailing her arms around wildly, she wasn't directing an imaginary orchestra! She was batting at floaters!

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