Information on options, nutrition & lifestyle
recommendations for floaters
Eye floaters are those small, often irregular, dark shapes that appear on one's field of vision. They are made up of clumps of protein that may look like dots, blobs, strands, cobwebs, etc. Though annoying, they won't harm you and you may not even notice them.
As we age the incidence of floaters (myodaeopsia) in the vitreous humour becomes more prevalent due to degenerative changes. Light passes through the lens, through the vitreous humour to the retina. We can see floaters because they cast a shadow on the retina. They may look like spots, irregular shapes, or bits of thread that slowly float on the field of vision. We often don't even notice them because they remain "fixed" in relation to the retina because the brain gets used to them and doesn't pay attention to them.
They are generally considered more of a nuisance than a symptom of serious problems unless there is a sudden increase in the number and location of floaters. A ring of floaters to the outside (toward the ears) edge of vision or a sudden increase in floaters is a symptom that should be checked with your opthalmologist.
Next: Nutritional support, diet, & lifestyle tips for floaters.
- Visual spots in the form of specks, strings, clusters, and combinations of these.
- The spots move as you move your eyes.
- The spots tend to drift out of your line of vision when you are not moving your eyes.
- Warning: If you suddenly become aware of new floaters in your vision, see your eye doctor right away to rule out serious problems.
Age Related. Most vitreous eye floaters are age-related and are due to the vitreous gel gradually liquefying. The vitreous gel helps maintain the shape of the back of our eyes and as it degrades connective tissue (proteins) are released into the gel. More than 50% of people over 70 see them. Some parts of the vitreous may also clump up forming floaters inside the eye. Shrinking of the vitreous that occurs with aging is known as vitreous syneresis.
Diabetes. Floaters are common in diabetics because that condition causes a number of weak capillaries in the eyes that can leak blood, which can clot and be deposited as floaters in the vitreous.
Prebirth. For some people, floaters may appear as a result of bits of cells that never fully dissolved from blood vessels created during prebirth development of the eyes. This is known as hyaloid artery degredation. Prior to birth, the eyes of the unborn child contain an artery which regresses during the last three months of pregnancy. Sometimes cell material is left behind which is experienced as floaters.
Eye Trauma. Trauma to the eye may also cause spots and floaters. Many floaters remain in the eye for a long time before they gradually disappear.
Near-Sightedness. Those who are nearsighted are also at higher risk of developing eye floaters, along with people with food allergies and/or candidiasis (chronic yeast infections).
Kidney Congestion. From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, congestion in the kidney, liver and colon can contribute to development of floaters. The nutrients and herbs we recommend are chosen for their ability to reduce congestion, helping to keep the vitreous free of these little specks and spots. In addition, these supplements help to strengthen the connective tissue of the retina and the strength of the blood veins and arteries.
Vitritis Vitritis is an inflammation of the vitreous body, which may be caused by a number of viruses such as ocular herpes, cytomegalorvirus (related to chicken pox) or other viral infections.
Uveitis - Inflammation in the uvea in the back of the eye which can be caused by infection, parasites, trauma, a few cancers, and conditions of the immune system.
Cancer A case study reported on a patient with chronic myeloid leukemia who included floaters among his symptoms. 3
Drugs Some prescription drugs can cause floaters. See "Drugs That Harm the Eyes" for a discussion of medications that could be potentially detrimental to your vision.
Vitreous anamolies Retinal tears, detachments, leaky blood vessels, and other vitreous anamolies can be experienced as floaters. Note: a full retinal detachment is a medical emergency.
Cataract Surgery Sometimes complications from cataract surgery can cause floaters.
Stress We believe that chronic stress may contribute to the generation of floaters (as well as any other health condition one may be prone to), so developing a daily routine of mediation, yoga, or relaxation is really important.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A sudden appearance of floaters might be an indication of a retinal or vitreous detachment. Nearsighted people and those who are diabetic are more prone to both floaters and retinal tears. 63% of the population over 70 experience vitreous detachments (10% before then).
If you suddenly see new floaters, see your eye doctor as soon as possible.
A few doctors perform laser surgery for this condition, but it depends upon where the floaters are located the fluid and the type of floater. Most patients who may be candidates for laser surgery have experienced PVD (post vitreous detachment), which can push floaters toward the center of the eyes and away from the lens and retina. However this practice is still considered outside the scope of conventional ophthalmology practice.
Patients who have had cataract surgery frequently report annoying floaters. One study assessed two types of cataract surgery and determined that those patients receiving a newer "hinged capsulotomy" reported fewer floaters.1
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1. F. Alipour, et al, Hinged Capsulotomy - Does it Decrease Floaters After Yttrium Aluminum Garnet Laser Capsulotomy?, Middle East Journal of Ophthalmology, July-September, 2015.
2. M.A. Babizhayev, Potentiation of intraocular absorption and drug metabolism of N-acetylcarnosine lubricant eye drops: drug interaction with sight threatening lipid peroxides in the treatment for age-related eye diseases, Drug Metabolism and Drug Interactions, Vol. 24, 2009.
3. M.S. Macedo, Bilateral proliferative retinopathy as the initial presentation of chronic myeloid leukemia, Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology, October-December, 2013.