Quirky Questions: Is it normal to see lines in my vision?

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Q I often see thread-like lines floating across my vision, especially when I look at my computer screen. Do I need to be concerned or is this normal?

A In most cases, you don’t need to be concerned. Many adults complain about light-colored wispy, thread-like objects floating across their visual field. These so-called “floaters” are almost always harmless and are a natural result of aging.

Our eyes are filled with vitreous, a jelly-like substance which, over time, can shrink and become stringy. When light passes through the vitreous, the stringy debris creates shadows that are cast onto our retinas and produce the eye floaters you describe.

Typically, eye floaters pose no health risks and do not require treatment unless they become so numerous that they impede your vision. However, if you experience a sudden increase in the amount of floaters, especially when accompanied by flashes of light, you should seek an immediate evaluation by an eye specialist. This is considered a medical emergency—it may be a sign of a retinal problem that could require surgery to prevent vision loss.

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.