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Eye Floaters -- Causes and Cures
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Last updated February 1, 2017 (originally published June 15, 2012)

By Michael Williams, Contributing Columnist





Myodesopsia, or "eye floaters", represents a condition that is easy to
diagnose.

If you have ever gazed up at the blue sky and noticed faint dots or
squiggly lines in your field of vision, you have floaters.

While this is rarely a critical affliction, there is a variety of factors that
causes eye floaters, yet very few treatments to eliminate this problem.
Eye floaters can occur at any age, but most sufferers experience this
condition after the age of 50.

Eye floaters tend to appear specks, or strands, of collagen break off
from the inside of the eye and become suspended in the vitreous
humor. The vitreous is a clear, gel-like substance that fills the eyeball.
What causes eye floaters? What remedies, if any, can help to get rid
of eye floaters?

Seeing Shadows from Eye Floaters

When a person ages or incurs an injury, the fine fibers of collagen
that make up the surface of the inner eye can shred and become
displaced. Once they make their way to the vitreous, they can move
about, creating shadows that the retina can perceive.

The interesting thing about floaters is that you have the ability to see
them. Because the vitreous is not a solid and moves independently
from the eyeball itself, the floaters change in position relative to the
retina.  In fact, floaters would be invisible if they weren’t constantly
moving, since your brain would filter them from the field of vision like
it does with the blood vessels on the retina.

Common Causes of Eye Floaters Found Among Adults Over 50



























The most common cause of eye floaters in adults over 50 are
posterior vitreous detachments (PVDs). PVDs have a variety of
causes, and the most of us will experience them by the time we reach
80 years old.

Seven of the most common benign factors that cause PVDs include:

1.        
Inflammation in the interior of the eye – There are a variety
of reasons for inflammation within the eye, including infection and
injury. As the eye swells, the vitreous can become damaged or
detached, leading to eye floaters.

In the case of infection, the American Journal of Ophthalmology lists
a number of conditions that can cause inflammation within the eye.
According to Emmett T. Cunningham Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, director of
the uveitis service at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco
and adjunct clinical professor of ophthalmology at Stanford
University Endophthalmitis, conjunctivitis, uveitis and other bacterial
and viral afflictions can result in swelling, which has been associated
with the exacerbation of eye floaters.

2.        
Diabetic retinopathy – While diabetes affects the level of blood
sugar, it is also known for causing damage to the eyes. According to
studies published by PJ Kertes and T Mark Johnson in their 2006
book, “Evidence-Based Eye Care,” over 80% of long-term diabetes
patients develop diabetic retinopathy, a degenerative condition that
affects the blood vessels of the retina. The condition, often
undetected in its early stages, can contribute to intra-ocular swelling,
leading to eye floaters. (Read more about
foods that can help you
manage diabetes.)

3.        
Laser eye surgery – While surgeries to correct cataracts and
improve vision have become quite commonplace, the use of YAG
lasers has been identified as a potential cause of eye floaters.
Because the depth of laser penetration can be difficult to control,
damage to the vitreous fibers can occur. As the vitreous is damaged
by the laser, floaters can occur.

4.        
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis – Frequently associated with
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), this disease attacks
the retina, leading to swelling and damage to the vitreous as well.
Online publication, All about Vision, stated in a 2011 article by Liz
Segre that CMV is believed to present in nearly 25% of all AIDS
sufferers, meaning that nearly half a million people in the United
States alone could be suffering from this affliction.

5.        
Retinal detachment – Damage to the retina and increased
quantities of eye floaters tend to go hand-in-hand. This serious
condition can lead to loss of vision, and eye floaters play an
important part in the diagnosis of this condition.

Through injury or aging, many people experience a separation of the
vitreous from the retina. As the vitreous pulls away, the resulting
stretch can cause both eye floaters and a tearing or detachment of
the retina.

As the retina tears, the associated blood vessel can be damaged,
leading to a buildup blood in the patient’s field of vision. The
subsequent compromising of the retinal surface also allows for the
leaking of the vitreous gel behind the damaged area. This buildup can
then begin to exert pressure on the retina, causing it to detach.

Eye floaters can play a part in diagnosing the condition. While
floaters and light flashes are not solely indicative of retinal
detachment, a sudden increase of both can indicate the onset of this
problem. Patients will frequently report what appears to be stars or
flashes as the eye responds to the damage.

Common Treatment of Eye Floaters

While eye floaters are common, especially for patients between the
ages of 40 and 60, or those who high degrees of nearsightedness,
the condition is rarely treated.

Since the vitreous is a gel, eye floaters tend to drift in and out of a
person’s vision. Typically, nothing more than a mild inconvenience,
these particles cause very few problems.

In cases where there is a debilitating buildup, surgical treatment is
available for the condition. Generally performed after a retinal
reattachment surgery or in other extreme cases where vision is
compromised, an ophthalmologist can perform a pars plana
vitrectomy.

While this procedure is not frequently performed, it can be used to
improve the quality of vision in extreme cases. The ophthalmologist
will remove most of the vitreous, leaving the leaving the interior of
the eyeball empty. He will then replace the gel with a saline solution,
which helps to maintain the proper pressure level in the eye, while
eliminating the eye floaters that are affecting the quality of the
patient’s vision.

Eye Floaters – A Condition to Watch

Although they can be mildly annoying, eye floaters are typically
nothing more than a distraction on a sunny day or in bright light.
While many people are unfamiliar with the condition, anyone who has
ever seen the dots, specks or squiggly lines caused by eye floaters
will recognize their description.

Eye floaters generally go untreated, but a rapid change in their
frequency along with light flashes can indicate a more serious retinal
tear or detachment. In these cases, surgical intervention by an
ophthalmologist is necessary to restore normal vision and possibly
remove the eye floaters.

Part of a comprehensive effort to maintain healthy eyes, it is
important to discuss eye floaters with your optometrist. In the
meantime, try
eating foods which support eye health, such as
oysters, which are high in zinc.  And, protect your eyes in bright
sunlight by wearing high-UV ray filtering shades.

Proper eye care can help people continue to enjoy gazing at a clear,
blue sky.
















































































Related:  
Why Are Eyes So Sensitive to Light?

How High Blood Pressure Affects Your Eyes

Why Am I Seeing Double?-Causes and Cures

What to Eat for Healthy Eyes

Stop Night Blindness-Vitamin A Deficiency and Foods That Help

The Whites of Your Eyes-Natural Remedies for Red, Yellow Brown  
and Gray Discolored Eyes

Why Do I Blink So Much?-Causes and Top 8 Natural Remedies
Why Are My Eyes Burning?




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