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Floaters - When it's an Emergency and When it's Not

Vitreous floaters or muscae volitantes are benign, normal entoptic phenomena. I always say that everybody over about 30 has them, and if they don't...well they do, they just aren't astute enough to have noticed them. With today being Dec 22, we and every eye doctor's office will inevitably get some emergency calls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day about floaters. That's because when you google "eye floaters" there are a lot of scary things to read about, namely retinal detachment. So let's just run down real quick when it could be an emergency and when it's probably not:


- it occurs in both eyes equally
- small dots or squiggles
- less than say 10 floaters per eye
- floaters are not always present
- no flashes of light
- still see well out of affected eye

Whenever someone calls the office about floaters I have my staff ask them: "one eye or both eyes?" If it's both, it is almost never an emergency. All the …

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