What causes eye floaters?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad who has Alzheimer's, has been complaining about having eye floaters recently. I have had them every once in awhile and have always been told they are nothing to worry about. But I am wondering if he's actually in fact seeing them. He sometimes he complains about the dog ruining his shoes but we don't have a dog. And also what causes eye floaters? And could it be a sign of something more serious?

Expert Answer

Lylas Mogk, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and director of the Henry Ford Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Michigan, and the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.

The cause of eye floaters is condensation of the transparent gel, called vitreous, that fills our eyeballs. As we age the vitreous condenses and makes little bits of solid material in the gel visible. Floaters are not dangerous and are not a sign of something more serious. If a whole eyefull of floaters appears suddenly, all at once, however, and you see more and more of them each hour, then you should see your ophthalmologist immediately as that could suggest a tear in the retina.