A hot topic EnVision readers want to know more about is floaters— those annoying shadows that may occasionally dance across our eyes. A previous article series outlined some causes of floaters, and provided guidance on when to ignore them and when it’s appropriate to see your eye doctor. So, now if we experience them, will they ever go away?  The short answer: Probably not.

Floaters, which can take on many different shapes and sizes, often appear in an eye’s line of sight as shadowy thread-like strands or squiggly lines. Unless they cover the field of vision, they’re more of a nuisance than a serious health concern.

Floaters are usually related to advancing age and sometimes nearsightedness. They form as the result of a decrease in vitreous, a clear gel-like substance that helps our eyes retain their shape. Over time, sections of the vitreous may break off, causing these shadowy deposits of protein to float around the retina.

While floaters are certainly distracting, they often will settle toward the bottom of the eye, thereby alleviating any visual impairment.

While a floater here and there is typically no cause for concern, should you experience a sudden influx of them moving across one or both of your eyes, any pain, flashes of light that last for several minutes, or sudden peripheral vision loss, it is important that you visit your VSP eye doctor immediately. Other causes may include injury to the eye or an infection, both of which demand immediate attention.

So, the bottom line… do floaters really ever go away? That depends, but usually no. If everything else about your eyes appears normal and you experience floaters, try lying down, sitting up or down, or moving your head from side to side to see if gravity will do the trick and move them out of your line of sight. Many times you can simply get used to mild floaters and they won’t impact your vision. There are no eye drops, medications, vitamins or diets that will reduce or eliminate floaters once they have formed.

It’s important to continue your annual eye exam, so your VSP doctor can identify any eye health issues that may arise. If floaters continue to bother you, visit your VSP doctor for advice.

The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your eye care doctor or physician for actual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is the work of the attributed author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of VSP. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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Judy Nguyen, O.D., is the optometrist at Bella Eye Care Optometry in Newark, CA.