What are those floaty things in your eye? – Michael Mauser

Have you ever noticed something swimming
in your field of vision? It may look like a tiny worm
or a transparent blob, and whenever you try to get
a closer look, it disappears, only to reappear
as soon as you shift your glance. But don’t go rinsing out your eyes! What you are seeing is a common phenomenon known as a floater. The scientific name for these objects
is Muscae volitantes, Latin for “flying flies,” and true to their name,
they can be somewhat annoying. But they’re not actually bugs
or any kind of external objects at all. Rather, they exist inside your eyeball. Floaters may seem to be alive,
since they move and change shape, but they are not alive. Floaters are tiny objects
that cast shadows on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue
at the back of your eye. They might be bits of tissue, red blood cells, or clumps of protein. And because they’re suspended
within the vitreous humor, the gel-like liquid
that fills the inside of your eye, floaters drift along
with your eye movements, and seem to bounce a little
when your eye stops. Floaters may be only
barely distinguishable most of the time. They become more visible
the closer they are to the retina, just as holding your hand closer
to a table with an overhead light will result in a more
sharply defined shadow. And floaters are particularly noticeable when you are looking
at a uniform bright surface, like a blank computer screen, snow, or a clear sky, where the consistency of the background
makes them easier to distinguish. The brighter the light is,
the more your pupil contracts. This has an effect similar
to replacing a large diffuse light fixture with a single overhead light bulb, which also makes
the shadow appear clearer. There is another visual phenomenon
that looks similar to floaters but is in fact unrelated. If you’ve seen tiny dots of light
darting about when looking at a bright blue sky, you’ve experienced what is known
as the blue field entoptic phenomenon. In some ways,
this is the opposite of seeing floaters. Here, you are not seeing shadows but little moving windows
letting light through to your retina. The windows are actually caused
by white blood cells moving through the capillaries
along your retina’s surface. These leukocytes can be so large
that they nearly fill a capillary causing a plasma space
to open up in front of them. Because the space
and the white blood cells are both more transparent to blue light than the red blood cells
normally present in capillaries, we see a moving dot of light
wherever this happens, following the paths of your capillaries
and moving in time with your pulse. Under ideal viewing conditions, you might even see what looks
like a dark tail following the dot. This is the red blood cells
that have bunched up behind the leukocyte. Some science museums have an exhibit
which consists of a screen of blue light, allowing you to see these blue sky sprites
much more clearly than you normally would. While everybody’s eyes experience
these sort of effects, the number and type vary greatly. In the case of floaters, they often go unnoticed,
as our brain learns to ignore them. However, abnormally numerous or large floaters
that interfere with vision may be a sign of a more serious condition,
requiring immediate medical treatment. But the majority of the time
entoptic phenomena, such as floaters and blue sky sprites, are just a gentle reminder
that what we think we see depends just as much
on our biology and minds as it does on the external world.

100 thoughts on “What are those floaty things in your eye? – Michael Mauser


  2. “They are not alive”
    “They can be red blood cells”
    Make up your mind, TedED

  3. My floaters are bright metallic colours like chinese dragons floating around my eye whether my eye is opened or closed. It lasts maybe 10 minutes then slowly disappears. Looks pretty cool but I know there must be something wrong.

  4. I have a little bug in eye,
    It looks weird,
    It doesnt move,
    I can only see it when I move my eyes from left to right,
    His name is Geralt.

  5. I see ones when I look at bright lights and they’re like green and purple I—

  6. Ummmm i see this one floater in my eye alot and it doesnt move… its kinda long too… should i be concerned?


  8. I notice the sky sprites will be more wild when my heart rate is up, which makes sense now.

  9. Suspended in the liquid of the "Vitrius Humor!" ??
    I don't see the humor in that at all. More like: "Vitrius Irritatrius"

  10. They might be?
    Well they might be Lions, scarecrows or piles of dogshit.
    Just say you haven't idea.
    Plasma space?
    Oh this is horrible science.

  11. I did searched about this on google bc I thought there’s something wrong with my eyes.. 😭😂

  12. Amazing! Seen it my whole life but never mentioned it to anyone, just kind of enjoyed it whenever it did happen – the moving light thing that is.

  13. Are the blue sky sprites what you see when you get a blood rush from standing up too fast and see stars?

  14. Be aware that high blood pressure can cause this as well. Be sure if you have a lot of "floaters" to at least chk. your own blood pressure.

  15. I have zero floaters in my left eye but a whole bunch in my right eye. Strange.

  16. I was told by my optometrist that floaters are lint particles that become trapped in the cornea. I wish you people could agree on something!!

  17. Honestly… I always thought that when you see that, it means you need to take a nap and rest your eyes! 😴

  18. Ok wtf you're just gonna throw out the giant floaters may be a big problem then move on, it's like, oh these pills can cause can cause very big problems, anyways back to the point.

  19. How about many white like birds appear when I sneeze is that same?

  20. Ok, that explains the blue sky sprites I saw! But the UFO I was staring at was real!

  21. Oh, squiggly line in my eye fluid. I see you there lurking on the periphery of my vision. But when I try to look at you, you scurry away. Are you shy, squiggly line? Why only when I ignore you, do you return to the center of my eye? Oh, squiggly line, it's alright, you are forgiven.

  22. It us dangerous how it creates and every people eyes exist this dot is its dirt in eyes

  23. I was diagnosed with pars planitus at 27. 31 now. I have so many floaters in both eyes its terrible.

  24. I'm old now, but when I was young I thought because I was high, I was able to see energy. I was like what the energy is in the air. Here I am in the future I have no powers

  25. i thought im the only person who see that wierd thing in my eye i also though that i can see atom haha

  26. these little bastards started with MS diagnosis, only 1eye works now…so it's only half annoying?

  27. I srsly thought I there were worms in my eyes thank goodness it's not😥

  28. I srsly thought I there were worms in my eyes thank goodness it's not😥

  29. They are called Mushi. You need an especialista know as mushishi to get rid of them

  30. Why can’t they teach this at school instead of most unnecessary lessons

  31. I always thought a floater was when the person before you did not flush his or her number 2 down the toilet.

  32. I first heard about floaters at a safety meeting held at an oil refinery.

  33. The floaty things are left over data from your previous ghost that wasnt completely wiped before installing you into your new body.

  34. These are things called Morgellons. Very creepy self-replicating A.I. nano particles that were being sprayed upon us through the chem-trails.
    In the old days you would only see some floating spots when you were really tired or after hitting a bump etc.
    The 'worms' are more recent and seem to increase on some days. Do the research. Everything is infected with them.

  35. I'm sad that's this is 4 years old

    Also at 2:10 we call this [ Estrellitas/ little starts] because it happens when people sneeze, hit their head hard, or just happens when I take a shower

  36. Years ago I asked my eye doctor about these floaters she never heard of them. I went to 12 others they have no idea. Now I know I am not crazy.

  37. I wonder why they don't tell you how to get rid of them don't tell me the problem if you don't have a solution

  38. Hmm floaters… I had that eyelash just falls out and kinda stays on my vision which blurs my vision so I just took it off e.e

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