Enzymatic treatments to reduce the effects of floaters -- small deposits within the eye that appear to float within the field of vision -- are available. Floaters may be present at birth, but their incidence increases with age and they can become severe enough to interfere with vision. Work with your doctor to determine what, if any, enzymatic treatment options are right for you.
Floaters are small bits of debris or deposits that are suspended within the vitreous humor of the eye, the clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina. According to the National Eye Institute, they either are present at birth or are acquired later due to retinal degeneration or damage to the vitreous humor itself. Floaters cast a shadow on the retina and can be seen as small spots or threads in the field of vision. They are especially apparent when looking at bright surfaces such as a blue sky or a computer screen.
Available Enzyme Treatments
An enzyme marketed for the treatment of floaters is known as serrapeptase, isolated from a particular species of bacteria found in the digestive system. According to claims from websites that market it, such as Home Remedy Central, the enzyme is a protease that, when taken orally, is thought to travel through the blood to the eye, destroying the floaters through proteolysis. Other websites, such as Serrapeptase Information, market it as the "miracle enzyme" and claim that it may digest non-living tissue and blood clots in disorders such as multiple sclerosis, inflammation, pain and cardiovascular disease.
Effectiveness of Enzyme Treatments
Even though these websites claim the benefits of the enzyme, there is no scientific evidence that serrapeptase has any effect on the treatment or progression of floaters. However, it has shown efficacy in several other systems. One study published in September 2003 in "Respirology" showed that serrapeptase was beneficial at clearing excess mucus from the airways of patients with chronic respiratory disease. Another study in the December 1999 issue of the "Journal of the Association of Physicians in India" showed initial promising results in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome with serrapeptase. However, translating these findings to treatment for the eye will require extensive research.
Unless the presence of floaters significantly impacts your quality of life, they probably require no treatment. However, in severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. Partial removal of the vitreous humor, known as vitrectomy, is effective at removing portions of the vitreous humor that contain the debris leading to floaters, if they significantly impair vision. The January 2002 issue of the journal "Eye" describes laser vitreolysis, a noninvasive procedure that focuses a laser on areas of the vitreous humor containing the debris and vaporizes them.
- National Eye Institute: Facts About Floaters
- "Respirology"; Effect of the Proteolytic Enzyme Serrapeptase in Patients with Chronic Airway Disease; S Nakamura, et al.; September 2003
- "Journal of the Association of Physicians in India"; A Preliminary Trial of Serratiopeptidase in Patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; A Panagariya and AK Sharma; December 1999
- "Eye"; Nd:YAG Vitreolysis and Pars Plana Vitrectomy: Surgical Treatment for Vitreous Floaters; Y.M. Delaney, et al.; January 2002