The vitreous humour is the gel-like substance that takes up most of the eyes’ space. It is clear and is made up of water, collagen fibrils, and proteins such as hyaluronic acid. There is a particular framework to these molecules to render a transparent medium, and so if the structure changes, we often see a “fly” or “thread like” particle in our vision. They often pass by our vision and we can follow them, especially when there is a bright background such as the blue sky or a white wall. Floaters do not generally interfere with vision. They can be present from a very young age or develop as we get older. The risks involved in the treatment of floaters far outweigh the benefits and so no treatment is often done; they simply remain a nuisance and a distraction. Neural adaptation often allows us to “edit” them out so they are no longer visible.
However, any new floaters or sudden change in floaters may not be normal and therefore, need to be examined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. An onset of floaters may be a sign of something more serious occurring in the retina or vitreous. For example, retinal detachment, vitreous detachment, or broken retinal vessels can cause a sudden onset of floaters.