Vitreous floaters, usually just referred to as ''floaters'', are generally harmless but sometimes disturbing small, shadowy shapes that can appear in our vision at any stage of life but tend to become more common with age. They may be round or linear, and are often described as anything from spots, specks, clear bubbles, threads or even spider webs. Floaters occur as a result of changes to the vitreous, the clear gel inside the eye, as it breaks down and becomes more liquid over life. Sometimes they occur if the vitreous more quickly detaches or pulls away from the retina. If floaters are numerous, change suddenly, or are accompanied by flashing lights, this may be a sign of a retinal tear or detachment, and in these circumstances it is important to see an optometrist urgently, preferably that day.