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Floaters or muscae volantes are entoptic phenomena[?], of shadow-like shapes which appear singly or together with several others in one's field of vision. They can take the form of spots, threads, or fragments of cobwebs, that float before one's eye in the direction of the eye's movement but much more slowly.

Often exasperatedly, when floaters drift in front of what they wish to focus on, many sufferers find it difficult to come to terms with them.

Floaters as such are quite harmless - provided they are not accompanied by bright flashes, usually in the corner of the eye - as ophthalmologists think of these shapes as shadows projected on to the retina by tiny structures of protein discarded over the years and trapped in the vitreous humour[?] in association with the ageing of the eye. It is not, however, only elderly people who suffer from floaters, it can certainly become a problem to younger people too at times, especially if they are shortsighted.

Normally, there is no treatment indicated. Vitrectomy operations to remove them, are normally advised against as they are risky and may cause more severe problems or even blindness. One should bear in mind also that floaters become less annoying as the sufferer gets used to them.

If flashes do occur, however, or sudden "clouds" of minute spots move across the field of vision (as a whole), they must be investigated immediately as they may be symptoms of retinal tears[?] or even a detached retina[?].

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