Symptomatic Floaters: Do floaters bother you?

Floaters are due to changes in the protein composition of the gel inside the eye called the vitreous. It becomes more liquidy with age and forms clumps of protein which we perceive as floaters. If they begin to bother you or if you see a burst of them, flashing lights or a curtain coming over your vision, it is important to let your eyeMD know this as soon as possible: the later three warrant an emergency visit really. 
The vast majority of eyeMDs do not recommend laser treatments for floaters given the risk of causing a hole, tear, or retinal detachment. However, there is the rare patient who is being driven crazy by their floater as noted below. In these patients, the only options currently are Yag laser or vitrectomy, which is much more invasive with increased risks. 
Am J Ophthalmol. 2011 Jul;152(1):60-65.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2011.01.026. Epub 2011 May 12.

Utility values associated with vitreous floaters.


Department of Ophthalmology and Visual SciencesKhoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore.



To ascertain the health-related quality of life associated with symptomatic degenerative vitreous floaters.


Cross-sectional questionnaire survey.


In this institution-based study, 311 outpatients aged 21 years and older who presented with symptoms of floaters were enrolled. Data from 266 patients (85.5%) who completed the questionnaire were analyzed. Utility values were assessed using a standardized utility value questionnaire. The time trade-off (TTO) and standard gamble (SG) for death and blindness techniques were used to calculate the utility values. Descriptive, univariate, and multivariate analyses were performed using Stata Release 6.0.


The mean age of the study population was 52.9 ± 12.02 years (range, 21-97). The mean utility values were 0.89, 0.89, and 0.93 for TTO, SG (death), and SG (blindness), respectively. Patients aged ≤55 years reported significantly lower SG (blindness) utility values when compared with patients above 55 years of age (age ≤55 = 0.92, age >55 = 0.94, P = .007). Utility measurements did not demonstrate significant relationship with any of the other socio-demographic variables examined in this study. The utility values did not demonstrate any significant relationship with other ocular characteristics such as duration of symptoms, presence of a posterior vitreous detachment, and presence or severity of myopia.


Symptomatic degenerative vitreous floaters have a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Younger symptomaticpatients are more likely to take a risk of blindness to get rid of the floaters than older patients.
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