People who have floaters often complain about the disruption in their vision. For some, it gets so bad that they end up suffering anxiety as a result. In some cases, the floaters are temporary, and they go away once you deal with the underlying cause.
For others, it is not that easy as the floaters are here to stay. What options do you have available when dealing with floaters? Also, what is the best approach in your case?
In this article, we will cover this and more in the quest to afford you some relief. Let’s get started.
Eye Floaters in Summary
Do you know what eye floaters are? Well, they appear as shapes that move across the eye, thus interrupting your line of vision. They are a result of deposits in the vitreous (the gel-like substance in the eye). Their shapes and sizes vary from one person to the other. Some people see dots, others see lines, while others see large masses floating in their eyes.
What you see is not the actual floater. You see, the deposits cast shadows on the retina, which is the part of the eye that processes images and sends signals to the brain. Thus, you end up seeing shadows, not the deposits themselves. These shadows vary in intensity, and some may even appear as white dots.
What causes eye floaters?
Some people are more at risk of developing floaters in their lifetime. A good example, in this case, is myopic people. Their vitreous syneresis takes place at a much earlier stage compared to other people. They can thus experience a change in their eyesight when they are young.
Other people at risk are the elderly. You see, when you are young, the vitreous maintains the shape of the eye while nourishing it. At this stage, it is essential for the functioning of the eye. As you age, it is no longer pertinent to this functioning, and it takes a backseat.
Also, it starts to liquefy over time with deposits forming in it. It also shrinks such that it pulls away from the retina, a condition known as posterior vitreous detachment. As all these changes take place, you start seeing floaters in your vision.
These are not a cause for worry as they are results of normal activity. People in their middle ages are likely to start seeing these changes as their eyes change over time.
Usually, floaters result from aging, as well as some risk factors such as myopia. However, they could also result from other changes in the eyes as follows:
Hemorrhage- When you suffer bleeding in the eye, the blood appears as deposits and casts shadows on the retina. You would also see floaters in this case. Sometimes, the blood can fill the eye, thus blurring vision.
The going away of the floaters or lack thereof will depend on the cause of the bleeding. Maybe the bleeding has come about owing to abnormal growth of blood vessels that break easily. In this case, you would need to address the underlying condition.
Trauma to the eye could also cause bleeding. Where the cause is minor, the floaters should go away over the months that follow. Monitoring of the situation will be necessary to ensure that healing takes place as expected. If the blood does not clear, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to replace the vitreous with a similar solution.
Retinal Detachment- As posterior vitreous detachment takes place, the vitreous pulls on the retina. Usually, this takes place as the connecting strands break off, and the vitreous shrinks away. It should not be a problem.
However, in some cases, the force is so much that it creates holes and tears in the retina. When this happens, you experience floaters and flashes, which you should report to a doctor.
The longer you wait, the more fluids leak into the retinal layers, thus shifting the retina from its position. It can no longer receive and send signals, and this affects your vision. This condition is an emergency that requires immediate surgery to rectify the positioning. Without this urgent response, you could end up losing sight in the affected eye.
Inflammation- When the back of the uvea gets inflamed, cells collect in the vitreous, thus disrupting sight. That is what doctors refer to as posterior uveitis. The inflammation can result from a myriad of factors, and only a diagnosis can help you figure out the same. In this case, you would need to address the underlying condition. The administration of drugs, such as steroids, also comes into play.
Many other factors could cause floaters, among them eye injections, medications, diabetic retinopathy, and related illnesses. The permanency of the floaters ultimately depends on the cause of the same.
Possible treatment options for eye floaters
Floaters are not dangerous, even if they may scare you. However, it comes down to the cause of the deposits. For example, if the floaters owe to posterior vitreous detachment, you should not worry. That is a natural part of aging, and there is not much to do about it.
If the floaters owe to inflammation, you need to address the underlying problem. If you do not, you could end up suffering much worse symptoms.
Where the floaters are not a cause of worry, there is no need for treatment. The brain will adjust to their presence, and they will not give you much discomfort. Over time, they can settle and get out of your line of vision. You should, however, consult your doctor if you notice more changes in your vision.
As you adapt to the floaters, you can work on improving your general health to reduce the appearance of the floaters. We will cover this under natural approaches.
The other approach is the use of surgery. It applies to people unable to live with the floaters as well as those with severe cases. An example would be where blood does not clear from the vitreous following a hemorrhage. In this case, your best bet in restoring vision would come down to having surgery. It has its risks.
However, it may be the only option for some people. Let’s look at these possible approaches:
Reducing eye floaters naturally
First off, you need to go by what your doctor advises. When you notice floaters in your eyes, you should consult a licensed eye doctor on the same. Once you have a diagnosis, the doctor can give you a way forward. Then you can ask your doctor what changes you can make to deal with the floaters.
Natural approaches work in improving your eye health, and this makes the floaters less visible. They also improve your general health over time. Note that they cannot take the place of medical approaches.
Thus, if your doctor advises that you undergo surgery, you cannot opt out by embracing natural remedies. They will, however, alleviate the symptoms associated with floaters. Here is what you can do:
Consume Fewer Toxins
What you put in your body ultimately affects your health. That’s why doctors emphasize the need to eat more fruits and vegetables. That is quite an uphill task when the unhealthy options taste the best. How are you to pass up a plate of fried chicken for carrot sticks? While it may be hard, it is the best way to take charge of your health.
Toxins from unhealthy food choices eventually pile up and cause issues such as inflammation. And we have covered how posterior uveitis can be a cause of floaters. Without triggering inflammation, you can avoid increasing the number of floaters. Your eyes will also be healthier in the long run, and you end up noticing the floaters less.
Is diet important? The answer is yes. Diabetic retinopathy comes about when one does not manage their diabetic symptoms as they should. And this also causes floaters, which could pave the way for loss of vision in the affected eye. So if you think about it, what you eat relates to the condition of your eyes.
Where you already have floaters, you can reduce their effect by eating right. And where you are yet to suffer disruptions in your sight, you can prevent the occurrence of the same. Avoid alcohol, processed foods, tobacco, drugs, high-calorie foods, and the likes. While it will take time, you will notice the positive effects of this diet change over time.
Drink More Water
Your body requires water for it to function as needed. Do you know how much of your body accounts for water? It is quite a lot, and you need to stay hydrated for you to be healthy. Your eyes also require water to work. That is why you keep blinking as a means to hydrate the surface.
Without this moisture, they become dry and gritty, and this leads to other problems. Work on drinking at least two liters of water each day. It helps in flushing toxins out of your body and keeping you fit and healthy.
Get Enough Rest
Your eyes need to rest now and then. You might feel the need for this as they are prone to strain, more so when working on computer screens. You see, your eyes are at work throughout the day. They monitor movements, changes in the environment, and all that. Eventually, they also get tired, and if you keep pushing them, they strain.
Eye strain leads to a myriad of problems, such as twitching and dry eyes. Ensure that you sleep enough at night and take naps in the day where necessary. Also, embrace the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break often. The goal here is to improve your overall eye health.
How do you feel when you get a massage? It feels relaxing, and you get to ease the tension in your muscles. The same goes for where you get an eye massage. The muscles around your eyes also tense up owing to continued strain over the years. You need to apply some pressure to them to help them release this tension that could cause spasms.
Find some time and learn how you can massage key points around your eyes. You cannot massage your eyes as you would any other body part, as they are sensitive. Learn some acupuncture notes and use this to target the muscles around the eyes now and then. It will also help you relax more.
Compresses are also useful in easing the tension in the muscles around the eyes. They also bring down puffiness, reduce redness and pain, and alleviate such related symptoms. You can choose to use either hot or warm compresses on your eyes.
Use a clean cloth for each eye and dip it into water. Wring it to squeeze out the excess water before placing the cloth on the affected eye. Lie on your back and relax for about five to ten minutes. If you are using a warm compress and it gets cold, dip it into the water again before placing it on the eye.
For cold compresses, wait until the cloth starts to feel warm before dipping it into the cold water. You can use ice cubes for this.
The water used for the compresses should be clean to ensure you do not put your eyes at risk of infection. Also, use different cloths for each eye to avoid transmission of likely infections.
Compresses work great when you are at home. But what happens if you need some relief and you are on the go? In this case, you can try cupping. Rub your palms together such that you generate heat. Shut your eyes and place the palms over them to transfer the heat.
It acts like a warm compress and helps you ease the tension in the eyes for a while. You can repeat this as often as is necessary during the day.
Watch Your Stress Levels
While eye floaters do not result from stress, being stressed can make the situation worse. It is always good to know if you are undergoing stress and what the source of the same is. Maybe you have work deadlines that seem unbearable. Or you have bills that have piled up, and you don’t know what to do. These situations, and more, can cause you a lot of stress.
You cannot avoid being in stressful situations, but you can control how you handle the same. Start by assessing how comfortable you are with what’s happening in your life. If you feel that you are losing control, find an outlet for your feelings.
Some people practice yoga, which has postures that increase blood circulation to the eyes. You can embrace this. Alternatively, you can find other ways to relieve stress. Walking, painting, sleeping, dancing to music, and other such activities could help. Find what works for you.
If you cannot cope with the stress, you should seek help. Stress will not only affect your body but your eyes, too. And stressing about it will only make matters worse.
Use Eye Exercises
You go to the gym, take walks, swim often, or other such activities to stay fit. And it shows when you go to the doctor’s office and get good test results. Well, your eyes need the same treatment. As much as you are eating right and staying hydrated, you need to go the extra mile. Exercising your eyes might seem like a strange idea, but its benefits are immense.
Rolling your eyes is one way to do this. Do so in both directions several times a day. But ensure that you are not doing this in the middle of a meeting or conversation. It could send a different message.
Moving objects to and from your face also works in helping your eyes focus. They will work better, and you will notice eye floaters less. Look up what other exercises you can rely on for your eyes.
Eyestrain comes about in different ways, and it hurts your eyes. Maybe the sun is going down, and you are reading a book with a flicker of what remains of the sun’s rays. As you do this, you start to move closer to the book, trying to make out the words as the light reduces. In doing so, you strain the eyes, and this can cause you dry eyes and other such problems.
Work on the lighting in the environment in which you work and read. That way, you can reduce straining your eyes and contribute to their overall well-being. The last thing you want is to trigger other problems such as involuntary eye movements.
Also, take breaks in between watching TV, playing computer games, and other related activities. Sure, that series may be entertaining such that you do not want to leave the couch. But doing so a few minutes each hour will work towards improving your eye health. Get up, take a walk around the room, fix a cup of tea, and relax your eyes. They deserve it.
Have you seen people wear sunglasses indoors? Well, it may look cool, but it does not work great for your eyes. Sunglasses work in preventing unwanted sun rays from reaching the eyes. They have a tint, and this protects you from the blare of the sun.
When you have floaters, being in brightly lit environments makes the deposits more noticeable. And this tint in glasses works in making you more comfortable. But when you are indoors, you no longer need this shading.
If anything, it makes your eyes strain as you struggle to make out things in the room. You might not notice it, but over time, the effects will show. Protect your eye health by wearing sunglasses when and if they are appropriate.
These natural approaches will work in diminishing the effects of floaters in your life. Over time, you should go about your activities as you would in the past. The floaters can settle out of your line of vision, creating an illusion that they dissolved.
If the floaters increase or do not seem to go away, you should consult your eye doctor. They can then advise you on the way forward. Surgery or laser therapy might be necessary in your case.
Medical treatment options for eye floaters
Once again, we refer to the question, do eye floaters go away? When using natural approaches, you do not put an end to their existence. Instead, you learn to live with them and diminish their presence by building your eye health. But if you do want to do away with them in entirety, it is possible through medical approaches.
Your doctor will take you through the possible approaches and their impacts on your quality of life. From there, you can decide if you are willing to go through with the procedure. Note that medical approaches come with substantial risks. As such, your doctor will dissuade you from undergoing such procedures unless it is necessary. They are as follows:
People who do not want to undergo surgery can choose to have this procedure. It is not as invasive as going under the knife, and you can get it done at the doctor’s office.
Here, the doctor directs lasers at big floaters in the eyes, thus destructing them. They end up being smaller and do not hinder your sight as much as they did in the past. Note that the lasers will not do away with them altogether.
Can laser treatment work for you? This procedure will not work for everyone, and your doctor will advise you as to its suitability in your case. It works best for people with a posterior vitreous detachment and an evident Weiss ring. Even then, the results are not given, as you would expect in surgery.
About half of the affected patients in this group experience some form of alleviation of symptoms. A quarter of the patients do not gain any relief following the procedure. In worst-case scenarios, the symptoms become worse upon undergoing laser treatment. It is thus best that you consider your options carefully before deciding on this.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure used in removing the vitreous humor of the eye. That may seem a little extreme, and you may wonder how the eye can function without this gel-like substance. It works like this- when you are young, the vitreous nourishes and shapes the eye. After this, it no longer has much use to you other than shaping the eye.
Yes, that’s all this part of the eye does, and you can thus live without it. So, how does this surgical procedure work, and are there any risks associated with the same?
We need to get into why you may need such a procedure carried out before we get into the how. The main reason, as per this article, would be in a bid to get rid of eye floaters in the eyes. Other reasons are as follows:
Under causes, we listed retinal detachment as a probable cause of floaters. It takes place when the vitreous pulls away from the retina using a lot of force. When tears and holes develop, they pave the way for the leaking of fluids into retinal layers, and this causes the retina to shift. You need surgery to fix this shift in positioning. Failure to do so can lead to a loss in sight in the affected eye.
Two, diabetic retinopathy is another common cause of floaters. Where diabetic symptoms are not managed as needed, they can lead to the growth of abnormal blood vessels. These break easily and leak into the vitreous, causing floaters. Surgery would be necessary to deal with this problem.
The third probable need for this procedure would be where one has suffered a hemorrhage in the vitreous. It can result from many things, among them trauma to the eye. Where the blood does not clear and disrupts vision, removal of the vitreous may be necessary.
In the same line, injury to the eye can lead to the lodging of foreign bodies in the vitreous or retina. This operation would come in handy to remove the said pieces from the eye.
And finally, surgery may be necessary when performing a biopsy where doctors need a sample of eye tissue. An example would be where a patient has an unknown eye infection.
Can you imagine undergoing surgery without anesthetic? That would be pretty scary and painful. Well, you do not have to in this case. Your doctor will give you something to numb your nerves as they operate on you. Following this, the doctor will make small cuts into the white of the eye before breaking up the vitreous.
From here, the jelly gets sucked out gently. Overall, this procedure takes one to two hours. The length will depend on the reason for the surgery and any complications involved in the same.
After removal of the vitreous, it becomes possible for the doctor to operate on the eye as needed. For example, if there was a foreign object lodged in the vitreous, removal is now possible. The same goes for repairing leaks and holes in the retina as well as sealing any leaking blood vessels.
What happens to the space left behind? The vitreous cannot replace itself, and substitution of the same is thus necessary. Where the vitreous got removed to get rid of floaters, you will need a solution to take its place. The doctor can use a gas bubble which the eye will absorb in the weeks to come.
Air is also a possible substitute that gets absorbed within 36 hours. The doctor can also use a mix of gas and air. Alternatively, the vitreous can get replaced with special oil. Absorption of this will not take place, and it is necessary to remove it later.
You should note that the eye produces a transparent fluid, which eventually fills the space upon the absorption of the gas or air. Thus, you do not end up with a vacuum in the eye and lose the shape of the same.
What to expect
Surgery can be a scary experience, and it thus helps to know what you should expect upon the finalization of the procedure. For one, you cannot tell if the operation is successful until four to six weeks post-surgery. In the weeks that follow the operation, you will experience a blur in your vision. The only way to know if you are one of the lucky patients is to be patient.
Also, your affected eye will be sensitive and will require a lot of care. Swelling, redness, and pain are probable in the weeks that follow. Your doctor will keep an eye on the situation to ensure that you are healing as you should.
You will need eye drops during this period, which you will administer from your home. These will work in preventing eye infections and reducing any inflammation. They also work in easing the strain on the eye and allowing it to rest.
As we discussed earlier, there are several ways through which your doctor can fill the vitreous. If the doctor uses gas or oil, you will need to watch how you position yourself in the weeks that follow. Your doctor will give you instructions on this.
Cataracts (clouding of the lens) can develop as a complication of the surgery. When this happens, you will need to go under the knife to deal with this vision distortion. Your doctor will assess the chances of this before your operation. You will also get information on when the operation is likely to take place, should cataracts develop.
What are the possibilities that you could end up suffering a complication during the surgery? About five to ten percent of patients require more retinal surgery later on. Also, your chances of developing a cataract stand at 30-40%. These are statistics you should keep in mind before undergoing any procedure.
You should be on the lookout for adverse changes in the operated eye. Warning signs include an increase in pain, swelling, and redness in the eye. Also, heightened light sensitivity and colored discharge are a cause for worry. If you notice these signs or the eyesight gets worse, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Living with eye floaters
Eye floaters can be a problem, more so in the first stages. It takes a lot of getting used to them before you can manage your usual routine. We have covered two ways to deal with them. The first is the use of natural approaches that are safe and cost-effective. These will not make the floaters go away but will make them less noticeable.
The second involves laser therapy or surgery. Both have considerable risks and are best for people with severe conditions or those unable to cope. But the only way to know that you need surgery for sure is to try and cope with the floaters. That is, as long as doing so does not pose a risk to your health. Here is how people across the globe have learned to live with floaters:
Adapting to the presence of eye floaters
It might seem a bit simplistic to say that one should adapt to the presence of floaters. After all, how are you supposed to get used to them? How can you wake up one day and decide that they will no longer affect your life? Well, you do it by believing it.
Look at it this way. The floaters are now a part of you, and unless you want to undergo surgery, they are here to stay. Also, they are not harmful to you unless the doctor says otherwise. These are harmless shadows cast on your retina.
Yes, today, you might notice them a lot, and it can affect you to a great extent. Tomorrow, you will see them a bit less. Over time, as long as you are keen on adapting, they will no longer bother you. And one day, you will leave the house without paying thought to their existence.
By this time, your brain will have adapted to them, tired of focusing on them, and moved on to other things. As will you. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. Take it today.
Dealing with the anxiety of eye floaters
Earlier on, we covered the need to do away with stress in our lives. It does not add to our wellbeing, but rather, it takes away from it. Having floaters can cause you a great deal of anxiety. And when this happens, you might end up seeing more floaters than there are.
It is like when you think that something terrible will happen. When it does happen, your anxiety makes it look like a worse thing happened. For people who already have anxiety before the occurrence of floaters, this condition may make the floaters appear worse.
Stress will also not work in your favor. You should look into anything that might be giving you anxiety and deal with it. Later on, we will look at ways you can deal with the anxiety that comes with eye floaters. It will help you to go through this with your eye doctor upon your diagnosis.
Watching what’s around you
You cannot control what is happening in your vitreous. But here is something that you can control- the environment, in most cases. When you have eye floaters, they seem to take center stage of your vision. You will look up at the sky, and you will see the shapes and forms that are a source of anguish to you. That’s why open spaces may not be the best places for you to relax.
Instead, choose spaces with a lot happening at once. An area like a forest would be a good idea. With different shapes and forms around you, your mind will not focus on the floaters. You will thus feel less anxious and will feel more comfortable.
But you cannot always avoid being out in the open. Sure, you will yearn for a walk on the beach now and then. What can you do to ensure that being out there does not affect your comfort? You can wear sunglasses.
You see, eye floaters are more apparent when you are in brightly lit environments. Thus, if you can block out most of the light, you will not notice the contrast as much. As you adapt to the floaters and manage what’s around you, coping with this condition will seem easy.
Coping at work
Suppose you work on a computer all day, how can you deal with the sharp contrast created by the floaters? How are you supposed to feel comfortable if your office is brightly lit? The way forward is to talk with your employer.
Let them know that you need some adjustments in your workspace. You can make some changes such as dimming lights in the office, using lower brightness on the computer, and working from home. Always think of means you can use to make your life more comfortable.
Eye floaters arise when there are changes in the vitreous. These changes can result from natural processes such as aging or be indications of underlying health problems. Depending on the cause of the floaters, they can go away or remain in the vitreous. Patients can deal with the floaters both naturally or medically.
Natural approaches work when the floaters are not severe and disruptive to patients’ lives. Medical procedures are the last resort when dealing with eye floaters. They have substantial risks, and they are thus best for people with severe conditions.
If you do not have serious eye conditions, you can learn to live with the floaters by adopting the techniques outlined in this article. For any changes in your eyes, be sure to consult a licensed eye doctor immediately.