Floaters are small objects appearing to float on your eyeball. They take many shapes including specks, cobwebs, and squiggly threads, and are most commonly visible when looking at bright objects, such as a white wall or blue sky. Floaters seem to float away when you try to look at them, and they typically have a translucent or shadowy tint. As with the treatment of any condition, consult your doctor before beginning any treatment option.
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A gelatinous fluid – approximately 99 percent water, but two to four times as viscous as water -- called the vitreous humor fills the eyeball. As you age, the vitreous humor shrinks, leading to it becoming a little bit stringy. The shadows of these strings become slightly visible and you see them as floaters. While aging and shrinking of the vitreous humor predominantly cause floaters, eye injury, disease, and surgery may also be factors.
Most people have eye floaters, and they become more common as you get older. They usually do not indicate health issues, and physicians typically recommend ignoring them. After forming, floaters, while not necessarily disappearing completely, often settle out of the field of vision. If they are too dark or too numerous, or both, surgical options exist. A surgeon may perform a vitrectomy to remove part of the vitreous humor and the floaters, replacing it with a salt-water solution. However, this surgery poses significant dangers of complications.
While ignoring eye floaters is the safest and easiest management option, some people may wish to try proactive non-invasive approaches to eliminating the floaters. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine report anecdotal evidence of the Chinese wolfberry effectively treating eye floaters, according to an article published in volume 16, issue 11, of “What Doctors Don’t Tell You.” However, research evidence on the subject is difficult to come by, and you should always consult a doctor before trying a new treatment.
Some consider eye floaters a problem related to connective tissue. The Connective Tissue Disorder Site suggests identifying areas of tension in the body that may contribute to eye floaters and performing trigger therapy. The site also suggests eating magnesium-rich foods, which promote relaxation, and avoiding foods such as coffee or activities that can lead to blood vessel constriction. Again, evidence is anecdotal and you should consult a doctor about any health conditions.
According to a website called “Floaters in the Eye,” foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, lemons, peppers, broccoli and kiwi fruit may help to prevent floaters. They also recommend eating foods rich in zinc and copper, such as shellfish and nuts. Finally, because the vitreous humor is 99 percent water, and proper cell activity depends on adequate hydration, sufficient water intake may also assist with eye floater management.
Most people experience eye floaters, particularly as they get older. Typically they do not represent a danger. Taking care of your body with regular exercise, proper hydration and a balanced diet, and limiting exposure to harmful substances and activities will increase your odds of getting and staying healthy. If you experience a sudden change in eye floater quantity, activity, or any other sudden change in vision, consult your doctor immediately.