Ocular floaters are shadows cast on the retina by clumps of vitreous humor that can develop as a normal consequence of ageing. They are common in people aged 50 to 75 years and are usually benign. Patients with a sudden onset of floaters should be reviewed urgently by an ophthalmologist.
Floaters are small, black, moving shapes that patients report in their vision, typically seen against a bright background. They are caused by opacities in the vitreous that cast shadows on the retina. They stand out when patients look at something bright, such as white paper, a computer screen or a blue sky, and can be quite annoying to the patient. Although floaters can be a sign of serious eye disease, most are benign. Floaters that are bad enough to disturb a patient can be vapourised by laser or removed surgically. This article covers the description, signs, symptoms, evaluation and management of floaters.