Seeing black dots in your vision, also known as floaters, is very common. Usually, they are a condition not to worry about and they tend to sink out of your vision fast enough for them not to bother you. However, if you notice an increase in new floaters, especially with flashing lights, it could be an indication of something more serious – in this case contact your optician straight away. Here we take a closer look at some of the common causes, symptoms and how to treat black dots in your eye
What are the symptoms of floaters?
Some common symptoms of floaters include:
- Black or translucent dots or strands in your vision
- Seeing small black dots that give the impression of something ‘float’ across your field of vision and move out of your vision very quickly
- Black spots that are most noticeable when looking at a bright plain background, like a white wall, or when looking up to the sky.
- The appearance of new floaters may also be accompanied by seeing flashing lights, such as streaks of bright white light flickering across your vision.
You are likely to see more floaters in your vision as you get older, if you are short-sighted or if you have been injured in your eye.
On rare occasions, new black dots and flashing lights in your vision can sometimes be an indication of retinal detachment, a potentially serious condition. This can be treated with early detection, so it is important to contact your optometrist immediately if you notice more or new floaters, flashing lights, or both.
What causes eye floaters?
Floaters are tiny pieces of debris in the eye’s fluid, known as the vitreous humour. This is the jelly-like substance found in the space in the middle of the eyeball. As children, the vitreous humour is fairly solid, but as we age the ‘jelly’ naturally becomes more watery. Floaters occur when clumps of the vitreous humour start moving around within this watery substance.
The dots or strands formed cast shadows on the retina, which leads to an interruption in vision and therefore the appearance of something floating in front of your eye.
Eye floaters treatment
Generally, longstanding and unchanging floaters are harmless, but will always be noted by your optometrist during your eyesight appointment. During your examination, your optometrist will be able to see any significant floaters in the vitreous humour of the eye and will record and make a note of these so that changes can be monitored.
If you see many black dots in your eye or have many floaters that impact the quality of your vision, you could be referred to an ophthalmologist to see if further treatment would benefit. This includes surgery called a vitrectomy, in which the vitreous humour will be removed and replaced.1
How do you prevent eye floaters?
Eye floaters are a part of the natural ageing process. Although you cannot prevent eye floaters as soon as they appear or if you notice an increase you should see your optometrist to check they are not a symptom of a more serious condition.
However, if the black dots in your eye are overly troublesome and causing you problems, you can consider wearing dark glasses as this will make the floaters less noticeable.1
- Moorfields, ‘What are these floating things in my eye?’, Moorfields Private Eye Hospital (2021) [online] [Available at: https://www.moorfields-private.co.uk/news/news-article/what-are-these-floating-things-in-my-eye]