What are those floaty things in your eye? – Michael Mauser


Have you ever noticed something swimming
in your field of vision? It may look like a tiny worm
or a transparent blob, and whenever you try to get
a closer look, it disappears, only to reappear
as soon as you shift your glance. But don’t go rinsing out your eyes! What you are seeing is a common phenomenon known as a floater. The scientific name for these objects
is Muscae volitantes, Latin for “flying flies,” and true to their name,
they can be somewhat annoying. But they’re not actually bugs
or any kind of external objects at all. Rather, they exist inside your eyeball. Floaters may seem to be alive,
since they move and change shape, but they are not alive. Floaters are tiny objects
that cast shadows on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue
at the back of your eye. They might be bits of tissue, red blood cells, or clumps of protein. And because they’re suspended
within the vitreous humor, the gel-like liquid
that fills the inside of your eye, floaters drift along
with your eye movements, and seem to bounce a little
when your eye stops. Floaters may be only
barely distinguishable most of the time. They become more visible
the closer they are to the retina, just as holding your hand closer
to a table with an overhead light will result in a more
sharply defined shadow. And floaters are particularly noticeable when you are looking
at a uniform bright surface, like a blank computer screen, snow, or a clear sky, where the consistency of the background
makes them easier to distinguish. The brighter the light is,
the more your pupil contracts. This has an effect similar
to replacing a large diffuse light fixture with a single overhead light bulb, which also makes
the shadow appear clearer. There is another visual phenomenon
that looks similar to floaters but is in fact unrelated. If you’ve seen tiny dots of light
darting about when looking at a bright blue sky, you’ve experienced what is known
as the blue field entoptic phenomenon. In some ways,
this is the opposite of seeing floaters. Here, you are not seeing shadows but little moving windows
letting light through to your retina. The windows are actually caused
by white blood cells moving through the capillaries
along your retina’s surface. These leukocytes can be so large
that they nearly fill a capillary causing a plasma space
to open up in front of them. Because the space
and the white blood cells are both more transparent to blue light than the red blood cells
normally present in capillaries, we see a moving dot of light
wherever this happens, following the paths of your capillaries
and moving in time with your pulse. Under ideal viewing conditions, you might even see what looks
like a dark tail following the dot. This is the red blood cells
that have bunched up behind the leukocyte. Some science museums have an exhibit
which consists of a screen of blue light, allowing you to see these blue sky sprites
much more clearly than you normally would. While everybody’s eyes experience
these sort of effects, the number and type vary greatly. In the case of floaters, they often go unnoticed,
as our brain learns to ignore them. However, abnormally numerous or large floaters
that interfere with vision may be a sign of a more serious condition,
requiring immediate medical treatment. But the majority of the time
entoptic phenomena, such as floaters and blue sky sprites, are just a gentle reminder
that what we think we see depends just as much
on our biology and minds as it does on the external world.

100 comments

  1. Does anyone else find that BECAUSE you have floaters in your eye(s), chasing flies that got in the house more difficult?

  2. Does anyone else see loads of tiny dots flashing that looks like a static tv screen whenever your in a dark room? Or is it just me

  3. I had the gel-like matter removed from my left eye and had it replaced with ophthalmic saline. Amazing difference. Right eye next.

  4. All this time I thought I could see the atoms making up stuff…. well, there goes my last chance of being unique😒

  5. I don't know what's more annoying, the floating things around the eye or the fkn bright orange and blue colors they used on this video that almost caused me near blindness.

  6. 2.26 Jesus another interest video ruined by the American narrator that can’t pronounce a simple word…the name of the small blood vessels in your body is pronounced “ CAP-ILL-A-RAYS” not CAP-EL-RAYS stoopid mudda!

  7. This confirmed what I already knew about floaters but the video could have done without putting a blinking eye on them – now it feels like I do have tiny creeping things in my eye after all … ☹️

  8. …..Soooo if you wear glasses or contacts would corrective eye surgery like Lasik remove the floaters or just make them more sharp??

  9. Omg at my old school we used to pretend we could catch them in our buckets it was soo cute and I thought they were floating animals

  10. Am I the only one that sees very small dots on my eyes (not floaters) but like different colors and almost perfect circles float around in patters when it’s very dark?

  11. As a kid, I would stare at the ceiling to see the floaters. I saw them for years until I started wearing glasses.

    Even with my glasses off, floaters are almost nonexistent.

  12. As a kid, up until now, I always thought that it was my eyes focusing weirdly or the sun's brightness affecting my eyes weirdly (I would always be looking at the sky, not at the sun, when I saw those 'floaters')

  13. Was I the only one who kinda played with the floater a little bit..like when I moved my eyeball a bit the thing will also move and I'll try to catch it

    Only me?

    Ok..

  14. Had a boss that had floaters. I knew he was full of floaters. He died about a year later from a brain aneurism. Are floaters and brain aneurism related?

  15. Okay so I actually experience the Blue Field Entoptic Phenomenon all the time, like when I stand up too fast or when it's going to rain

  16. I have a rare and serious condition called uveitus since I was very little, and floaters were very common to me. I see them all the time and can't get rid of them. There can be very few, or a lot. They can be very small, or large. When I was little, I told my family about the floaters that I had every day of my life, and they were worried. I went to a doctor, and they said I have uveitus, which from what I know, is when your retina is inflamed and/or irritated, which can tear your retina, leading to permanent damage or even blindness to the eye. I was told that if it was noticed and/or treated any later, my retinas would have been tearing. Now, I go to Johns Hopkins and have been there for 3 years. I am still seeing floaters and have bad eyes, although I am planning to have perfect vision in the next couple of years.

  17. Because of my eye surgeries, I see SO MANY of these all the time, and they don’t disappear when I look at them. They often crowd up and block my vision when I’m drawing and it is literally the most annoying thing ever.

  18. I THOUGHT EVERYTIME THAT HAPPENED I COULD SEE SOMEONES SOUL BEING LIFTED UP TO HEAVEN AS IN THEY DIED AND I HAD SUPER POWERS AND I COULD SEE IT
    IM RUINED

  19. When I first noticed eye floaters I thought it was a spiderweb in front of my face, but soon realised it wasn't.

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