Eye Floaters (cont.)
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What are eye floaters?
- Why do people notice eye floaters?
- What do eye floaters look like?
- What are the causes of eye floaters?
- How common are eye floaters?
- What eye diseases are associated with eye floaters?
- What are the risk factors for developing eye floaters?
- Are eye floaters dangerous?
- How are eye floaters diagnosed?
- Do eye floaters go away?
- What is the treatment for eye floaters?
- Can eye floaters be removed with medication?
- Can eye floaters be removed with surgery?
- Can eye floaters be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for eye floaters?
- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
Do eye floaters go away?
Most eye floaters decrease in size and darkness with time. Some of this is due to actual absorption of the floater through the natural processes within the eye. Eye floaters may also shift in position within the eye, resulting in less of a shadow effect. In addition, the human brain tends to adapt to and often become used to the presence of eye floaters, ignoring them in a manner similar to the way a person only notices the feeling of shoes on their feet when they think about it. Eye floaters eventually tend to become less bothersome, both through reduction in density and size and the above described process of neuro-adaptation. Anxiety about the symptom of floaters can make the floaters more noticeable.
What is the treatment for eye floaters?
There are no safe and proven methods to cure the symptom of eye floaters caused by vitreous syneresis or posterior vitreous detachment. Most will fade over time and become less annoying or noticeable. Learning relaxation techniques may hasten the neurologic adaptation to persistent eye floaters.
Can eye floaters be removed with medication?
Although certain herbs, vitamins, home remedies and iodine-containing products have been touted as effective in decreasing eye floaters, none of these have been proven effective in clinical trials. In the unusual cases in which the eye floaters are due to white blood cells in the vitreous from inflammation or infection, appropriate anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics will reduce the number of white blood cells. There are no oral or eyedrop medications of value for the reduction of the common type of eye floaters. Abnormal eye floaters due to bleeding in the vitreous from diabetic retinopathy or a retinal tear will decrease as the blood is absorbed. However, the cause of the bleeding must be addressed to prevent additional bleeding or retinal detachment.
Can eye floaters be removed with surgery?
Breaking up of eye floaters by the use of a YAG laser has been advocated by some ophthalmologists, but there is no evidence that this is both safe and effective. The use of a laser also poses significant risks to the vision in what is otherwise a healthy eye. The vitreous itself can also be surgically removed by a procedure called vitrectomy. This involves multiple incisions into the eye and is used in situations in which there is a large amount of non-clearing blood or inflammatory debris within the eye. Vitrectomy for the treatment of the common type of eye floaters due to vitreous syneresis or posterior vitreous detachment carries with it a significant risk of cataract formation or retinal detachment. In the past few years, use of smaller caliber instrumentation for vitrectomy and the performance of partial vitrectomy for vitreous floaters has reduced, but not eliminated those risks.
Can eye floaters be prevented?
There is no known way to prevent normal eye floaters. Eye floaters as a result of injuries can be avoided by wearing safety glasses when working with power tools or protective eyewear when participating in certain sports. The incidence of eye floaters from vitreous hemorrhage in diabetic retinopathy can be reduced by improved control of hyperglycemia.
What is the prognosis for eye floaters?
The prognosis for normal eye floaters is good. Well over 90% of people with floaters are not bothered by their presence.
Webb, B. F., et al. "of vitreous floaters in a community sample of smartphone users." International Journal of Ophthalmology 6.3 (2013): 402-405.
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