One of the most common vision related problems that people around the world face is that of eye floaters. Floater is basically a term used for cobweb or specks like structures that appear to be floating in front of the field of vision of a person. In some cases, these images are occasional while in others they are quite frequent. They may also be referred to as sparks or strands of light that move across individuals’ field of vision. In most cases, they prove to be harmless but they can also be a warning sign of an incoming eye related problem, especially in a situation where they begin to become a bit too frequent and irritating.
So what exactly are floaters?
They are basically cluster or clumps of protein that get deposited in the white portion of the eye, called vitreous humor. Vitreous humor covers the major portion of the eyeball and lays down a pathway for all the incoming light which passes through it to reach the back of the eyeball, called retina. Retina is the back wall of the eye and is basically a patch of cells that are sensitive to light. It is responsible for capturing the images and sending them to brain via a series of nerves called optic nerves.
What we usually call as eye floaters are not exactly floaters but shadows that are casted onto the wall of eyeball. This shadow is casted due to the deposition of protein clumps in vitreous humor. When light passes through this white portion, the clumps cast a shadow on retina, resulting in shadow or web like images floating in front of our eyes. That is the very reason why no matter how much you try to chase them they appear to be drifting away.
As we age, our vitreous humor begins to shrink. Sometimes, they begin to become a little stringy which results in floaters in the eye. If you go by the statistics, you will find that more than 25% of the human population suffers from this problem at some or the point in their lives. That figure is around 60% for people above 80 years. However, it is usually found in people suffering from nearsightedness. In some cases, it also occurs after cataract surgery or any injury to eyes. Although the problem is harmless in most cases, it can lead to major problems if ignored for long.