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Here's what those floaty things in your eyes are
January 23, 2016
Ever wonder what those floaty things in your eyes are? Well, the folks at TED-Ed have an explanation, broken down into understandable terms that anyone — and not just those with biology degrees — can understand.
First things first, floaters (scientific name: Muscae volitantes) aren't typically a cause for concern. Floaters only exist in your eyeball, not in the external world. And though they appear to wander in the direction that your eye does, they aren't alive by any means.
So what are they? Inside your eyeball, there is a gel known as vitreous humour. Over time, the constituents of the vitreous humour break down and drift away, hence the name "floaters." According to TED-Ed, floaters may be bits of protein or tissue, or perhaps red blood cells. These fragments "cast shadows on the retina," and thus, when they're closer to the retina, the stronger the shadow will be.
According to All About Vision, floaters will appear more defined when you're looking at a bright backdrop, like a blue sky or a computer screen.
In the TED-Ed video, they also discuss the blue field entoptic phenomenon. Ever look at the sky and start to see small dots in your vision? Those small, darting dots are the result of white blood cells moving around the capillaries. Though this phenomenon is unrelated to floaters, it's equally fascinating.
Below you can watch the TED-Ed video in full, complete with animations that accompany the scientific explanations. Check it out!