Looking Directly at Floaters.

I have a fairly minor case of floaters aka muscae volitantes. Floaters/muscae volitantes as many of you may know are minor imperfections in the eyes’ vitreous humor that cast shadows on the retina that then look like little specks or undefinited strands across your field of vision.

Anyways, the one weird thing about floaters is you can never look directly at them. They never allow themselves to come into your direct field of vision. And if you try to look directly at them they seem to quickly scurry away. Does anyone know why this is? Why can’t you look directly at them?

Thank you in advance to all who reply :slight_smile:

I don’t know about the medical details, but I have a couplej of floaters. They do not appear in a fixed position (I guess that’s why they’re “floaters”) but do have a limited range. At any rate, the only way you could look directly at one is if it were directly in the center of your field of vision. Simply put, if you move your eye to try to look at one, your whole eye moves, including the floater.

I also get auras (retinal migraines), and those are not in the center of my field of vision and I can’t look directly at those either. Drives me nuts.

Floaters are suspended in fluid within your eyeball. When you move your eye to look at them, the fluid swirls around like water in a just-kicked bucket. You can control that slop by moving your eyes slowly, or only a bit at a time. With a little practice, that’ll let you get the floater suspended right in the center of your visual field.

I’ve got one that usually lands smack dab in the middle of my field of vision on the left side. I don’t enjoy it. I hope they figure out a way to get rid of them someday because I’ve got a little herd of 'em.

Good news is they’re harmless. Supposedly, they’re more common in near-sighted people.

Yeah that would be me. I was one of those seven-year-olds with specs.

If you try to chase it, your eye’s movement will continue to move it. Remember, the projected image on your retina is inverted (your brain flips it back so you don’t see everything upside down,) thus when you look “toward” the floater, you’re actually looking away from it. If it seems to be drifting toward the center of your vision, keep looking at what you were looking at. The floater may drift across the center on its own.

Some of my floaters look like little hairs, drifting around. I acquired a new one in my right eye when I got my lens implants. It’s a sharply defined black dot, and I often mistake it for a gnat. Perhaps it was always there, and I couldn’t see it before the unchanging focus of the new lenses.

Every two years when I go to the ophthalmologist I ask him if science has yet come up with a magical eyedrop or something to get rid of floaters. He always responds with a little chuckle and “um, no”. As if scientists have much better things to do than worry about McNew’s floaters. Grrrr.

They drive me crazy, especially when it’s really bright. In the sunlight they come out like gangbusters.

I didn’t realize it was a defined medical condition. I used to get them regularly (maybe weekly?) through childhood and highschool. I don’t recall getting any in the last few years - maybe contacts prevent them?

Cecil on floaters http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_311.html

The black dot is a bit worrisome. I presume the eye doctor who did the implant checked it out, but if not, you should see him/her.

Like Quiddity, I was wearing glasses as a wee lass, and I have a boatload of floaters. I’m calling them my herd, now! They are more common in people who are nearsighted–something to do with the shape of the eye, more strain, blah, blah. I think it’s highly unfair that not only am I horribly nearsighted and can’t see without glasses, not only are we prone to floaters, but also to retinal tears.

I hate my floaters. They really bother me in bright light, and when facing a light source, where they’re particularly noticable. They get in the way of seeing text, and since when I’m not reading, I’m writing, it’s almost all of the time.

You can’t look at 'em because they, well, float, in the fluid.

But if you notice any new, distinct floaters, get thee to a doc, asap. That’s how I found out about my first retinal tear–the sudden appearance of a new, distinct, large, dark floater. It was actually gunk leaking from the, uh, part of the eyeball that I can’t remember the name of.

And particularly if you see a lot of new ones. My father woke up to a field of vision covered in floaters :eek: and went to the doc ASAP to get the retina reattached. This was years ago and he still has a bunch of the floaters. :frowning:

Probably the macula. And that ‘gunk’ was most likely a tiny bit of ‘blood’ from the tear.

One way to clear floaters, if you have a lot of them, is to consider a Vitrectomy, though that has side effects of its own, notably an increased risk of cataracts. A vitrectomy is most likely to be done as part of a retinal reattachment, which is what I underwent a few years ago.

My surgeon knows about it. He says it’s another floater. We’re monitoring it. I have another couple of follow-up appointments.

Some days, I can read newspaper articles. Other days, I can only struggle through the comic strips. For the ones with tiny print, I have to look them up online. :smack:

As a little kid, I was half-convinced I had some sort of superpower that let me see bacteria, because I could see these little organic-shaped blobby things floating through the air!