Doctor Says

No treatment for harmless floaters

The small black dots in your vision are due to the presence of floaters.

These are related to the ageing of the vitreous gel in your eyes.

When we are young, the vitreous gel is clear. With ageing, changes may occur, leading to the formation of tiny "clumps" of collagen strands which result in shadows being cast on the retina. These shadows are then seen as floaters.

They are typically harmless, and become more apparent when looking at a white background, such as a white wall or a clear sky.

Occasionally, floaters can be associated with more serious conditions, such as retinal tears or detachments, particularly if the person has undergone eye surgery recently.

It is important to be alert to other symptoms of retinal tears or detachments, such as light flashes or "curtain-like" effects. If these occur together, get assessed by an eye specialist, as retinal tears or detachments require urgent treatment.

There is generally no safe and effective treatment for floaters since they are harmless.

With time, most people tend to get used to seeing them and, eventually, become less bothered.

Dr Eugene Tay

Medical director and consultant ophthalmologist at Singapore Vision Centre, a Singapore Medical Group clinic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2016, with the headline 'No treatment for harmless floaters'. Print Edition | Subscribe