I think every single one of us has experienced a dark dot in his/her sight when looking at a white surface such as a white ceiling, there's something in our eye that with a little focus we can see it, and when we move our eyes around, that thing floats around quickly in your sight. It's like a substance on eye's surface, I want to know what is it called. Hope I'm clear enough.

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    Just in case anyone gets here via google-- if you see a really large number of these all of a sudden, that can be a sign of retinal detachment and would be a good time to visit an ophthalmologists-- it's one of those things that can lead to blindness if not fixed within hours. Occasional floaters happen to everyone and aren't as interesting. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 14:53
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    They are microscopic alien serpents called Ouroborans that have roamed the eyeball since the upper Precambrian. They seek to understand life from the human perspective; hence, they conglomerate within the forward part of the eyeball. If you hold a freshly-extracted eyeball up to your ear, and if you have exceptional hearing, you can hear them screaming their dismay in tiny, distraught, sibilant voices. Holding your eyeball to another person's eyeball (an "eyesmooch") will allow Ouroborans to travel between individual human beings.
    – Engineer
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 15:16
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    @MatthewMartin I'd like to add to that: URGENTLY.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 15:26
  • Is this for something within the eye or on the surface of the eye?
    – ThomasW
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 1:28
  • "retinal detachment" oh, my, had this once in a karate tournament. I continued and won, but I visited the eye-doctor afterwards and that was my last tournament. The retina joined on again gradually over a few weeks.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 8:54

6 Answers 6


You're probably thinking of floaters.

Floaters are suspended in the vitreous humour, the thick fluid or gel that fills the eye. Thus, they follow the rapid motions of the eye, while drifting slowly within the fluid. When they are first noticed, the natural reaction is to attempt to look directly at them. However, attempting to shift one's gaze toward them can be difficult since floaters follow the motion of the eye, remaining to the side of the direction of gaze. Floaters are, in fact, visible only because they do not remain perfectly fixed within the eye.

Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, consistency, refractive index, and motility within the eye’s vitreous humour, which is normally transparent. At a young age, the vitreous is transparent, but as one ages, imperfections gradually develop. The common type of floater, which is present in most people’s eyes, is due to degenerative changes of the vitreous humour. The perception of floaters is known as myodesopsia, or less commonly as myodaeopsia, myiodeopsia, myiodesopsia. They are also called Muscae volitantes (Latin: "flying flies"), or mouches volantes (from the French). Floaters are visible because of the shadows they cast on the retina or refraction of the light that passes through them, and can appear alone or together with several others in one’s visual field. They may appear as spots, threads, or fragments of cobwebs, which float slowly before the observer’s eyes. Since these objects exist within the eye itself, they are not optical illusions but are entoptic phenomena.


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    As this is undoubtedly the correct answer, I will only post my alternative suggestion for a less formal/specific word as a comment - speck - faint biblical connotations.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 11:53
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    @ChrisH the biblical reference is to an object outside (or rather, on) the eyeball though, right?
    – AakashM
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 14:46
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    @AakashM it is, so although the speck is non-specific, it may have implications that the OP might not want
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 15:14
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    I've always called them floaters without knowing it was the right name for it. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 15:41
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    youtube.com/watch?v=3I7_al4mrfg Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 16:24

The overarching term for all these shadows in the eyes is entoptic phenomena. As the term implies the source of these visual effects is the eye itself - floaters (including the blood corpuscles), Haidinger's brush, branching patterns, and the flying gnats for instance. As these are real images cast upon the retina, they are not optical illusions.

The celebrated physician and physicist Herman von Helmholtz offered the following description:

Under suitable conditions light falling on the eye may render visible certain objects within the eye itself. These perceptions are called entoptical... it is only under special circumstances ... that these shadows become visible.


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    But, by God, what are they, sir?!
    – Engineer
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 14:58
  • @NickWiggill "Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, consistency, refractive index, and motility"
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 15:18
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    Those tiny little creatures...love them. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 16:55
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    How did they took that picture?!? Anyway it looks really like what I see :s (luckily I have a bit less of those)
    – Bakuriu
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 18:51
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    It looks like it's a constructed image, not a photo. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 22:21

Depending on what you may have looked at previously, especially a light source, it may also be the effect of afterimage also known as ghost image or image burn-in

An afterimage or ghost image or image burn-in is an optical illusion that refers to an image continuing to appear in one's vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased. One of the most common afterimages is the bright glow that seems to float before one's eyes after looking into a light source for a few seconds. Wikipedia

...although, I do believe what you are describing is floaters


Another term is squiggly line

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 all right.
You are forgiven.

-- Stewie Griffin, Family Guy

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    :)))))))) -- Stewie Griffin, Family Guy, i like the guy. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 11:40

Musca volitans & Myodesopsia are medical terms for it.

enter image description here


You may be referring to the "fovea"; the dark spot on the retina that is the attachment site of the optic nerve.

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    I was going to make an answer for this earlier... Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 18:16
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    -1 The fovea is the central part of the retina where most of your sight is located. What you are thinking of is called the "blind spot" (see eg. here). This has no relation to what OP is talking about - you don't see a "dark spot" at your blind spot, you simply don't see anything at all. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 18:24

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