They look black, gray, or almost transparent. Some people say they look like strings, others say they’re only small specks, and others even say they resembles cobwebs. They float across your peripheral vision, but whenever you try to look directly at one, it drifts off in another direction, making the whole experience even more frustrating than it already was.
Any of that sound familiar? If so, there’s a good chance you have floaters.
First, it’s important to keep something in mind: you’re not alone. According to one survey, about 74% of people experience floaters to some degree. Another survey of optometrists indicates that the average eye doctor will see about 14 patients a month who complain about floaters. Because many people simply learn to live with this nuisance, odds are good there are plenty of other patients who simply aren’t complaining about the issue.
In other words, if you do have floaters, that doesn’t mean you should panic. However, it does mean you should learn more about them. Floaters often cause no major problems aside from irritating the person who has to see them drifting across their vision from time to time. That said, there are instances in which they may be a sign of a more serious medical condition that requires treatment. The information here will help you better understand what exactly floaters are, and what you can do about them. In the meantime, it’s always a good idea to see your eye doctor about this kind of issue. Only a trained professional can determine if your floaters are a sign of a bigger problem. Seeing your eye doctor early gives you the chance to get treatment before any underlying medical issues worsen.
Again, though, there’s a good chance your floaters are not linked to a major condition. Eye doctors generally won’t recommend treatment in this case. The risks of certain treatment methods outweigh the impact a few floaters can have on your vision. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce their severity. In this article, you’ll find a list of natural and simple remedies that people use to manage their floaters when medical treatment isn’t deemed necessary.
First, let’s find out what causes this problem in the first place.
What Causes Eye Floaters?
It’s important to point out that eye floaters may be caused by several different factors. They often develop as a person ages, but this is not always the case. Discuss the topic with your eye doctor if you’d like to know precisely why you’ve developed them.
If a person developers floaters later in life, it’s often due to changes in the eye’s vitreous. The vitreous is essentially a clear, gel-like substances that fills everyone’s eyeball. The vitreous is the reason the eyeball maintains a round shape.
However, as a person gets older, their vitreous can start to change from a gel-like substance to something that resembles a liquid. As a result, it starts to pull away from the eye surface. This causes it to clump together into little bundles These clumps block some of the light that would otherwise reach your eye. The floaters you see are actually shadows cast by these clumps as the block light. They appear to “float” because they’re traveling across your eyes through the vitreous.
Eye bleeding is another potential cause of floaters. If you’ve suffered any injury that could potentially cause bleeding in the eye, see your eye doctor as soon as possible to correct the problem. This issue results in floaters because blood cells in the vitreous resemble them. When your eyes bleed, enough blood cells can be released into the vitreous to create the effect of floaters.
Some medications have also been known to cause floaters. For example, there are some eye medications which can produce bubbles in the vitreous. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask your doctor about any potential side effects you may experience when using an eye medication. While you should still see an optometrist soon any time you develop floaters, if you know that they may be a side effect of a medication you’ve been prescribed, odds are good you’ll be less concerned when they develop.
In some instances, a patient suffering from floaters is actually experiencing a side effect of inflammation in the back layers of the eye. This inflammation can release debris into the vitreous which results in the appearance of floaters. This is yet another reason to consult with a professional when you spot them. You’re simply not able to diagnose your own eye inflammation in most cases. You may notice the effects of the condition, but you won’t know what’s causing it. With a proper diagnosis, you can receive proper treatment.
Unfortunately, sometimes floaters can also be a sign of a retinal tear. That’s because, as the vitreous pulls away from the eye surface, it can potentially tear the retina. If left untreated, this may eventually result in retinal detachment. Although this condition is treatable, patients tend to get better results when they receive treatment early.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk about this problem with your eye doctor. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’ve just developed floaters after a lifetime without them. There’s certainly a good chance the cause is harmless. However, you don’t want to take any risks. A doctor will determine the specific cause of your floaters, letting you know if they need treatment.
In the meantime, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with other warning signs that may strike when your floaters are harming your retina. If floaters are contributing to retinal detachment, you may notice that one side of your eye seems to be slowly getting shadier. The effect is very similar to that of a curtain being drawn across the eye slowly. A sudden and noticeable decline in central vision is also a key warning sign.
Pay attention to these symptoms. Making a list of any and all symptoms you experience can help your doctor more easily diagnose your condition.
As with most medical conditions, some people are at a greater risk of developing floaters than others. Being over the age of 50 is one of the most significant factors. This is the age when most people start to develop floaters. That’s because, again, the vitreous tends to sag with old age.
Because they may have gone their entire lives without them, people who suddenly develop floaters during their later years often worry that they may be a sign of a bigger issue. This is possible. That said, because developing floaters after the age of 50 is a common occurrence among many people, you shouldn’t get too worried right away. See your eye doctor, of course, but don’t assume you’re suddenly losing your vision. That’s extremely unlikely.
People who are nearsighted are also more likely to develop floaters than those who are not. That’s because nearsightedness involves a lengthening of the eye that the average person doesn’t experience. This lengthening is known to trigger changes in the vitreous that contribute to the development of floaters.
Diabetic retinopathy is also an illness often linked to floaters. This condition develops as a result of excessive sugar in the blood. Over time, this sugar can actually damage blood vessels responsible for supplying nutrition to the retina. That’s why people who suffer from diabetes should be particularly vigilant about seeing the eye doctor on a regular basis. Floaters are annoying, yes, but if diabetic retinopathy is the cause, the potential for major vision loss is a much more significant problem. Being proactive is key to avoiding such consequences.
People who have suffered eye trauma of any kind are also more likely to experience floaters. If you do experience eye trauma, make a point of seeing your eye doctor more often than you might otherwise. You need to stay in touch with a professional to constantly monitor the condition of your eyes. You’re much more likely to avoid both minor and major problems in the future if you address any issues early.
Have you ever had cataract surgery? If so, you’re at a greater risk of developing floaters than most people. However, in these cases, it’s unlikely that you actually developed new floaters after surgery. Instead, you probably already had them. While cataract surgery is important, the effect is has on your vision simply makes it easier to see the floaters that were already there. Improved vision sometimes means seeing the world more clearly. Sadly, that can mean seeing floaters and other vision disturbances you may not have noticed before.
Luckily, there are several potential treatments for floaters. The treatment that’s best for your needs will depend on the cause of the problem. The following info will give you a general overview of popular treatment options. If your floater condition isn’t severe enough to warrant treatment, keep reading to learn about steps you can take to make sure floaters have a minimal effect on your day-to-day comfort. Even without medical treatment, it’s entirely possible to limit the negative impact of floaters.
How Do Eye Doctors Treat Floaters?
Again, treatment methods vary depending on what’s causing a floater problem. These are some of the common options an eye doctor may recommend if they decide your floaters require treatment. Keep in mind, in many minor cases (which are probably more common than you imagine), no treatment is necessary. Instead, you can simply learn to manage the condition. More on that later.
Right now, these are some of the treatment options worth learning about.
Addressing the Underlying Cause
Remember, there are certain medical conditions which can result in the development of floaters, including eye bleeding and inflammation in the back layers of the eye. In these instances, an optometrist or similar specialist will focus on treating the underlying condition. Doing so may also serve to reduce or eliminate the presence of floaters.
However, there are cases in which, even after treating the cause, the floaters that are left in the eye still cause major irritation. In severe cases, they can also block your vision so much that they genuinely interfere with your ability to see the world around you clearly. This isn’t just a nuisance; it can make basic tasks like driving or walking down the street much more dangerous. An excess of floaters in your visual field probably won’t block your vision of anything important, but they can be do distracting that you’re unable to focus on the important visual information in front of you. That’s when a doctor may perform the following procedures.
Removing the Vitreous
When floaters cause major problems or severely impact a patient’s vision, the doctor sometimes recommends removing the vitreous entirely. They make a small incision, remove the vitreous fluid, and replace it with a similar substance that functions the same as natural vitreous. While patients should not be overly concerned when in the hands of experienced professionals, it is worth noting that this procedure does carry a small risk of retinal tear or eye bleeding.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t get treated for your condition if floaters are causing major problems with your vision. Instead, you should simply prioritize finding a specialist with a good track record. You’ll feel much more comfortable with the procedure if you know you’re in the hands of someone you can trust.
Another popular treatment method involves using lasers to break up the floaters. This can make them less noticeable. That said, many patients who have undergone this treatment option find that it’s not very effective. Some claim they don’t notice any change in their vision at all. There’s also a risk of eye damage if the laser is not correctly positioned, although this is unlikely to occur. Because of all these reasons, this treatment option is not used frequently. It’s only worth pursuing if your doctor or another specialist highly recommends it. Even so, it’s still a good idea to discuss potential side effects and complications, so you can be certain you thoroughly understand the procedure.
These are the main treatments doctors will consider if floaters have a major impact on your vision. Of course, if an underlying issue like inflammation or bleeding is responsible for your floaters, the exact treatment for that condition will also vary.
That’s if you need treatment at all. There are many people whose floaters don’t cause enough problems to justify undergoing a procedure. However, if you are one of those people, you still probably want to know if there’s anything you can do to at least reduce the impact that floaters have on your day to day life. After all, even if they’re not causing major problems, they can still be a major annoyance.
Want to know what you can do to ensure floaters bother you as little as possible? Keep reading for useful information.
How to Manage Eye Floaters
The fact of the matter is, most eye doctors rarely see the need to address floaters. They only treat the issue if there’s an underlying condition causing it, or if the floaters are so abundant that a patient’s vision is severely impaired. The risks associated with surgery are simply greater than the risks associated with a minor or moderate floater problem.
Unfortunately, if you do have floaters, you can’t exactly get rid of them. You can, however, take steps to minimize how they affect your vision overall. These tips will help.
Try a Simple Trick
Floaters appear to drift across your field of vision because they are technically moving within the eye. That means there are things you can do to change their position and make them less noticeable. If they’re not in your immediate field of vision, you won’t pay as much attention to them and they won’t be as distracting. Luckily, changing the position of floaters in your eyes is an extremely simple process.
Some experts recommend moving your eyes left and right or up and down repeatedly until you don’t notice the floaters, or don’t notice them as easily. Moving your eyes can shift the position of floaters. Keep in mind, you may have to do this a few times before you shift their position enough to make a difference. Don’t assume the technique didn’t work simply because you tried it once and the floaters remained in place. Indirectly shifting their position usually requires multiple attempts before you get the results you want.
Luckily, this is a very easy technique that anyone can learn in seconds. It’s also ideal because it doesn’t require any special tools, equipment, or ingredients. You can do it virtually any time you notice floaters. It may only provide temporary relief, but anyone who has dealt with eye floaters for a long period of time knows that even temporary relief is better than none at all. Additionally, the more you practice this technique, the better you’ll get at it.
Wear Sunglasses More Often
First of all, it’s worth noting that most people don’t realize how often they should be wearing sunglasses. They aren’t just attractive fashion accessories; quality sunglasses protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. If you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time, wear them. This is important even on cloudy days. Contrary to what many people believe, UV rays from the sun can penetrate cloud cover. By wearing sunglasses while outdoors, you’re protecting your eyes from much more significant potential consequences in the future. Ask your eye doctor to recommend the right pair. Because some lenses are designed solely for fashion and not for thorough protection, you want to confirm you get a pair of sunglasses that keeps your eyes safe.
Wearing sunglasses in bright conditions is even more important for people who suffer from floaters. Remember, you see floaters because they block light and cast shadows on the retina. The more light that directly hits your eyes, the easier it is for you to see floaters. While wearing sunglasses will not make them go away, it will certainly make them less noticeable, which is essentially the same thing. People with minor floater conditions don’t get rid of them. Instead, they take steps to reduce their visibility. Unless floaters are caused by an underlying condition, the only problem associated with them tends to be the impact they have on your vision. If you can’t see them, they might as well not be there. Sunglasses can help you keep floaters at bay when you’re outdoors and the sun is shining bright.
Wear Your Glasses
If you are prescribed glasses or contact lenses, wearing them more often can help with your floater problem.
This may seem counterintuitive. After all, didn’t you just learn that improving your vision also has the side effect of making floaters more noticeable? Wouldn’t wearing your glasses simply boost the visibility of any floaters in your visual field.
Not exactly. While the vision improvements that result from cataract surgery can definitely make floaters more noticeable to certain patients, the way in which glasses improve vision can actually have a beneficial effect on your floater condition. Eye doctors generally encourage patients with floaters to wear their glasses or contacts whenever floaters are affecting their ability to focus on truly important visual information, whether it’s the road, their work, or anything else in their immediate surroundings. Prescription lenses sharpen the vision in a way that allows a person to more easily focus on what they need to. The floaters will still be there, but the patient will find they simply aren’t as distracting as they once were. As you’ll learn later, developing this ability to “tune them out” can make floaters far less distracting over time by tricking the brain into forgetting they’re even in your visual field. More on that shortly.
Reduce Bright Lights
Do you have floaters? If so, treat them like you would any other annoying chronic condition, like headaches or allergies. Specifically, start paying attention to when they’re more noticeable. What kinds of environments are you in? What are you looking at? Do any other symptoms accompany your floaters? Perhaps most importantly, how bright are any and all sources of light in your field of vision?
Keep a log of times when floaters cause major vision issues. You’ll likely find that the problem tends to be worse when you’re looking at bright lights. Your floaters may also be more noticeable if there are bright lights in your general field of vision, or if you’re out on a sunny day.
Again, people typically notice floaters when they cast shadows on the retina. The less light that hits the eye, the harder it is to notice floaters. That’s why it’s a good idea to reduce the brightness of any sources of illumination in your surroundings. There are many ways in which you can do this on a daily basis.
For example, most people these days spend a good portion of their waking life staring at computer, phone, and TV screens. Reducing the brightness on these devices can help make floaters less noticeable. Installing dimmer switches on the lights in your house is also a smart step to take. If you ever notice that floaters are interfering with your vision significantly, you can dim the lights until they aren’t as distracting.
You can also take steps to reduce the impact of strong lights on your floaters when you’re outside as well. Do you spend a lot of time outdoors around your property? That makes sense. People who have large yards like to enjoy them by lounging out in the sun. While this may be relaxing, it could also make your floaters much easier to spot. Thus, you may want to install umbrellas and other features that offer shade. Sitting in the shade and wearing sunglasses will make it much easier to enjoy lounging on your property without having to deal with floaters. It’s also a good idea to scout out shady areas whenever you visit an outdoor location. The combination of sunglasses and shade can offer major relief if your floaters start to get too distracting.
There’s good evidence to suggest that taking supplements which promote eye health can reduce the impact of floaters. Specifically, experts recommend omega-3 fatty acids and turmeric. These supplements can optimize the clarity of your vision while also making floaters much less noticeable. They also offer a wide range of general health benefits that will boost your overall wellness.
Some experts also recommend using supplements that have been shown to increase blood flow. They believe that supplying the eyes with more blood helps the vitreous flush out the bundles that develop and cause floaters. Supplements like Ginkgo biloba and lysine are helpful in this respect.
Drink Lots of Water
Staying hydrated is vital for your overall health. There’s also reason to believe it may help reduce the impact of floaters on your vision. That’s because drinking water regularly helps to flush toxins out of the body. Some people believe that an excess of toxins in the body can make a floater problem even worse.
Many people who suffer from floaters notice that the problem seems to be worse when they are stressed. They also notice that floaters are easier to spot if they’ve been straining their eyes.
That means that simply relaxing is often an effective way of treating and managing floaters. If what you do to relax involves keeping your eyes closed, even better. Giving them rest could make floaters less easy to see.
If you’re not sure what you should do to relax, consider mindfulness meditation. It’s an incredibly simple step you can take almost anywhere. You can find numerous articles and videos online explaining how to do it.
A basic mindfulness meditation involves sitting in an erect, alert, but comfortable position, and closing your eyes. The goal is to focus on the present moment without judgment. People often use an “anchor” that keeps them in the present, moving their attention back to the anchor whenever they notice other thoughts intruding. The breath is an extremely popular one. Try to focus on your breath without controlling it. Simply notice what it feels like when you inhale, and what it feels like when you exhale. Don’t try to change anything. There’s a very good chance your thoughts and attention will start to drift to other topics or stimuli. Don’t judge yourself when this happens, but gently move your attention back to your breath.
Studies indicate that practicing mindfulness regularly yields major decreases in stress. Perhaps more importantly, studies have shown that mindfulness can make it far easier to cope with something that would otherwise be a nuisance, like minor chronic pain. In other words, meditation can help you reduce the impact of your floater problem, while also helping you cope with it in a healthier way when floaters do interfere with your vision.
Don’t Use Devices Often
Reducing the brightness on devices like your computer or your phone can definitely help if floaters have been a problem. For the best results, though, consider finding ways to limit how often you use these devices in general. The bright lights they emit make floaters easier to see. Additionally, using these devices too often contributes to eye strain, which can also make a floater problem worse.
If you’re trying to find the best time of day for you to start cutting back on looking at digital screens, consider starting with the end of the day, before you go to sleep. There are several reasons this is the best time to start with. First of all, while you may be required to use a phone and computer frequently throughout the day for work, odds are good you won’t have as much work to get done in the hours before bed. Second, digital devices emit “blue light” which has been known to suppress the production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is what helps you get to sleep more easily. When you stop using your digital devices at least one hour before bedtime, you’ll fall asleep much more quickly. This helps reduce stress and boost your overall health.
Limit Caffeine & Other Stimulants
Plenty of people these days rely on large (and unhealthy) doses of caffeine to simply function. While this is understandable, it’s not good for your health. It can also make a floater problem much worse.
That’s because stimulants cause the pupils to dilate. This lets even more light into your eyes. As a result, it will be easier to spot floaters.
Don’t assume this means you need to reduce your caffeine intake to the point where you cut it out entirely. That could be a very difficult task for most people who are accustomed to drinking several cups of coffee or tea over the course of a day. You simply need to try and slowly reduce the amount of caffeine you have if you’re the type of person who already has a tendency to consume excessive amounts.
In fact, as the next point demonstrates, some sources of caffeine can also be good for your floaters.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea contains smaller amounts of caffeine than most other caffeinated beverages. That makes it a good alternative to coffee or stronger teas for people trying to have less caffeine throughout the day.
Green tea is also useful because it contains relatively large amounts of antioxidants. These promote retinal health which can strengthen for vision and reduce the impact of floaters. Drinking three cups of green tea a day can help you get your caffeine fix while also boosting your eye health.
Drink Water & Lemon Juice
Maybe you’re not a fan of green tea. Maybe you already stay away from caffeine entirely. In this instance, you can still reap the benefits of an antioxidant-rich beverage. For this remedy, mix the juice from half a lemon with a glass of water. You may also add honey to your liking. The vitamins and antioxidants in the lemon juice will improve your eye health and prevent floaters from being a major annoyance.
Reduce Inflammation with Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties. That means it can be very helpful if your floaters are the result of inflammation.
To take advantage of this natural ingredient, mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with about half a cup of warm water. Soak two cotton pads in the mixture, remove them, then place them on top of your (closed!) eyes for half an hour to an hour. You’ll probably only have time to do this once a day, but you’ll reap the most benefits if you do it twice a day.
The apple cider vinegar will provide your eyes with nutrients that reduce inflammation. Over time, this can have a positive impact on your floaters.
Eat More Garlic
By now, you probably realize that getting rid of floaters often involves consuming more antioxidants. The impact they have on your overall health is extremely beneficial. The impact they have on your eye health is especially helpful if you struggle with floaters.
Luckily, you don’t always need to try advanced or complicated remedies to get more antioxidants. Garlic is rich in antioxidants, and it’s an extremely versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. Any time you’re preparing a dish that could work well with garlic, include it.
That said, cooking garlic does rob it of some of of its nutritional properties. You may want to add minced cloves of raw garlic to pastas or salads to get the full benefits. Some people also chew on raw cloves of garlic. Doing so releases the antioxidants, even if you don’t actually swallow the raw garlic. Just make sure you brush your teeth or rinse out your mouth afterwards! It’s no secret that chewing on raw garlic can have a negative effect on how your breath smells.
Drink Aloe Vera Juice or Ginger Water
Aloe vera is another natural ingredient that boasts strong antioxidant properties. Drinking aloe vera juice regularly can sharpen your vision and help heal tissues that may otherwise contribute to floaters.
If you can’t find aloe vera juice, you could make ginger water as a substitute. It’s usually not too difficult to find ginger in a typical grocery store.
Making ginger water is an easy process. All you have to do is measure about an inch or two of ginger and grate it into a cup of water. Add honey according to your liking. Drinking this easy-to-make beverage regularly can definitely help you improve your eye health and manage your floaters. Many people also find it’s simply a refreshing drink that makes for a healthful substitute to soft drinks and other harmful beverages.
Don’t Do Anything
Does it sound like you’re being told to give up? That’s not exactly what this advice means. You should definitely make an effort to find out what’s causing your floaters. If your eye doctor recommends treatment, schedule the recommended procedure. If they don’t believe your floaters are causing enough of a problem to warrant treatment, use the tips here to manage them.
That said, many people who first develop floaters don’t realize that they may not actually have to live with the condition as it is. This is true even if they don’t seek treatment. Over time, the brain typically learns to adjust to floaters. The brain coordinates with your eyes to determine what you’re focusing on. Ignoring your floaters may be difficult at first. Stick with it. If you go about your daily life using your eyes the way you normally would, there’s a very good chance that your brain will eventually learn how to essentially “tune out” floaters. They’ll still be there, but you won’t see them as clearly.
Again, if you do have floaters, seeing your doctor is essential. They’ll make sure you’ve taken all steps necessary to address the problem. If they decide treatment isn’t necessary, the remedies listed here will help you manage this condition comfortably and easily.