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Fragments of inner EYE material that float through the vitreous humor, casting shadows against the RETINA as entering light strikes them. Floaters may take various shapes and sizes, and typically move around the VISUAL FIELD, changing position with blinking or eye movement.
Most are harmless, though large fragments may interfere with vision. Holding the eye still may allow the floater to settle to the bottom of the eye, out of the visual field.
A sudden increase in the number of fragments, or fragments that occur in combination with FLASHES, can signal a retinal tear or RETINAL DETACHMENT. Prompt intervention is necessary to prevent further retinal damage and preserve vision.
Floaters may also indicate UVEITIS. Large may remain indefinitely; small may eventually break apart and become absorbed into the vitreous humor. There is no treatment.