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Eye floaters - what they are, possible cures and treatment options

This site is dedicated to helping you find a cure, or at least showing you how to mitigate the effects and annoyance of your eye floaters. The pages you are reading were created by someone who has had eye floaters himself. You may have been told, or read that "there is nothing you can do about eye floaters, you just have to put up with them". This is not true.

What are eye floaters and what causes them?Eye schematic - public domain  image

There is a clear fluid like a gel inside your eye. This is called the vitreous humor, or just the vitreous. It fills the space between the lens of the eye at the front, and the retina at the back. This gel is normally stagnant, and not replenished.

Floaters are floating specks or deposits caused by degeneration of the vitreous humor itself. There can be one, or several of them suspended there. The floaters are not actually visible, but those suffering from floaters see their shadows cast on the retina. That is why they are dark and without color. They are often described as cobwebs, threads or amoebae, as well as spots.

As the vitreous humor is not replaced by any normal functioning of the eye, the floaters, once they have appeared, will remain in the eye.

Because the floaters move around in the vitreous humor, the brain can't 'tune them out' very easily. They are particularly noticeable when you are looking at a plain blank field of flat color, such as a clear sky, a white wall, or a blank tablet or computer desktop. When looking at a highly detailed scene, a large TV screen or a movie, you may not be aware of seeing the floaters at all, since they are lost among the rich visual detail and movement.

Floaters (also called 'mouches volantes') can occur at any age, thought they become more common as you get older, and are more common in nearsighted people. They also often occur after cataract operations.

The main cause of floaters is the degeneration of the small percentage of material in the vitreous humor which is not water, but collagen, which forms fibrils as it breaks down - the fibrils are the floaters whose shadows you see. Other, more serious causes of floaters include detachment of the retina, which can cause blood spots, and bright 'flashes'. In this case seek medical advice imediately.

What are possible cures or treatments for eye floaters?

Having interviewed people who have had floaters in the past, it seems that the annoyance of floaters gradually goes away over time (months or years). This is because the brain learns eventually to ignore them, and/or because the material in the floaters becomes more translucent with time, so that the shadows they cast on the retina are not so visible - gray rather than black. In some cases, they seem to actually disappear.

But rather than waiting and hoping for the best, what can you actually do about them?

Here are your options:

1. Use eye drops which are designed to help
2. Try speficic remedies, or improve your general eye health
3. Have surgery to remove the floaters
4. Have laser treatment to remove the floaters
5. Look at other actions you can take

These options are described in detail below. If you want to follow something up or try a treatment you can click through to independent sources of information, which are listed on our References page. If you are suddenly seeing a lot of floaters, you should also see a qualified eye specialist as soon as you can, to confirm the cause is not something serious.


1. Eye drops

Can-C eye drops are often tried and recommended as a treatment for eye floaters.

The drops include N-Acetyl-L-Carnosine, which is claimed to be effective for many eye conditions. From the product information e-book: "One of the most important developments regarding carnosine is its ability to prevent and cure age-related cataract, and possibly glaucoma and other chronic eye conditions. In this respect the form of carnosine used is N-acetylcarnosine. This curative action of carnosine is perhaps related to its ability to stimulate elimination of damaged proteins from the eye."

If you want to try these eye drops they are available here.

See also our References.


2. Remedies

Various herbs and over-the-counter medications are promoted or discussed as helpful in curing eye floaters or just improving general eye health. You can follow the highlighted links to read more about them. We have included all the remedies we have found that have been claimed by users to help with their eye floaters.

If you have developed eye floaters recently, or only have them in one eye, it may be that supporting your eye health with such supplements will prevent further floaters occuring. It may be that when people report a 'cure' using these products, the eye floaters are actually fading naturally and no more are appearing because sufferers have improved their diet or lifestyle.

Lysine, Bilberry, Ginkgo

These are dealt with together here as they are often used to help blood circulation to the eyes. These products are commonly available in pill form as over-the-counter supplements. They are often combined with other supplements like Vitamin B complex. There is some anectodal evidence these low-cost remedies may help. Reference.

Serrapeptase enzyme, Serraflazyme

This enzyme (actual name is Serratiopeptidase) was isolated from the gut of silkworms, and among other effects on the human body is claimed to dissolve eye floaters. Evidence for this is only anectodal though (Reference). If it works for you, let us know.

Serrapeptase (Serraflazyme) is available at LifeExtension.com

Lutein

Some floater sufferers recommend this is taken as a supplement for its antioxidant properties. It is often included in general supplements created to support eye health to avoid age-related conditions of the eyes. References.

ReVision

A treatment based on Chinese medicine. References

Ocuvite Eye vitamins and minerals

Some users have reported this has reduced their eye floaters. The supplement includes lutein and Omega 3. References.


3. Surgery - Vitrectomy

In extreme and severe cases, where floaters are obscuring vision, or someone just can't live with floaters any more, a vitrectomy can be done by an eye surgeon. This procedure involves surgical removal of the vitreous gel - the eye's internal transparent jelly. Silicone oil or a gas is injected to replace the vitreous gel, or it is replaced by saline.

After this procedure, the floaters are gone (since they were within the vitreous gel, which has been replaced). However, this procedure often results in the development of cataracts within a few years; there is also an immediate risk of inflammation and bleeding.

It is unlikely a vitrectomy would be recommended by an eye surgeon unless your floaters were extremely severe and debilitating, or have become psychologically harmful.

If you want to go ahead and find a surgeon who does this, see our References.


4. Laser treatment

'Laser vitreolysis' can be used to remove floaters. An opthalmic laser is focused on the floaters and vaporizes them. This procedure is carried out only by specialist eye surgeons and is still quite rare. There is a claimed success rate of over 90% on thousands of patients. References.

There is also some ongoing debate among eye specialists on whether this procedure is completely safe.


5. Other options - simple things you can do to mitigate the effects of eye floaters

  • From personal experience, eye floaters are worst when the environment is bright. I find that wearing dark polarized sunglasses on bright days means I am hardly aware of eye floaters at all.
  • Most computers and other devices let you adjust their brightness. Lowering the brightness of your computer desktop, for example, will reduce the contrast with your floaters and make them less annoying.
  • Some people consider fluorescent lighting 'dries out' your eyes and can be related to floater occurrence.
  • One common piece of advice is to 'move your eye up and down' or 'move your eye from side to side', the theory being that the floater's shadow will move off your direct line of vision. This has never worked for me.
  • Eye floaters No More - an ebook detailing eye exercises which it is claimed will deal with eye floaters. I have not tried this and can't vouch for it or recommend it.

If you have had success in getting rid of your floaters using any of these solutions, or other ones, let us know.

Rob Smith of Floaters in the Eye .com

-- Rob Smith


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