Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | September 6, 2015

Eye Floaters: Definition, Causes and Treatments

Have you ever seen a speck, cobweb, or string-like image in your vision? If so this is most likely a “floater”. Floaters are most commonly caused by a shrinking vitreous humor. As we age, collagen in the vitreous humor breaks down into “fibrils”, which are those annoying images called “floaters”. “The perception of floaters is known as myodesopsia” (Wikipedia).

floaters

According to Harvard Health Publications, “about one-quarter of people have some vitreous shrinkage with floaters by their 60s; that rises to about two-thirds of 80-year olds. Floaters also appear more often in people who are nearsighted, those who have had cataract surgery or a previous eye injury, and those with diabetes.

Floaters may also be caused by retinal tears, retinal detachments, infection or inflammatory diseases, among other rare causes. The NHS (National Health Service) estimates that 98% of floaters are caused by age-related natural changes. According to the Mayo Clinic, factors that can increase your risk of floaters include:

  • Age over 50
  • Nearsightedness
  • Eye trauma
  • Complications from cataract surgery
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eye inflammation

If you notice a new floater or have a sudden onset of floaters or flashers, you should contact your Eye Care Professional immediately. Before your appointment, it may be a good idea to make a list of your symptoms, medications (including prescription, OTC, and vitamins/supplements), and any questions you have. Your doctor will use a slit lamp or ophthalmoscope to examine your eye. Sometimes, if the floater is near the retina, it may not be visible to your doctor.

A majority of the time floaters do not require treatment and, even though they can be annoying, will require the sufferer to adjust over time. If the floaters impair your vision or are a sign of a more serious problem, your eye doctor may consider treatment. The 2 current treatment options are lasers and surgery. Both of these options carry risks which a trained ophthalmologist will discuss. At this time, no drops or medications exist for treatment of floaters.

Even though floaters are unable to be prevented, it is always a good idea to maintain good eye health. For aging eyes, you may consider a supplement such as Oculair. Before starting on any new supplements or OTC medications, consult your doctor.

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