I am often asked the question: ‘What can I do to reduce my floaters?‘ I received another one of these in my email inbox today and thought it was time to submit a post to further elaborate and answer this question.
First, you should probably be aware that the topic of vitreous degenerative disorders, more specifically vitreous eye floaters is not a topic that seems to be very interesting to my professional colleagues. There has been very little research on the subject, there has been very little discussion of the topic, and the subject of eye floaters does not make it into our journals and books with very few exceptions. During our specialty medical education, it appears that most doctors are taught that when somebody comes to the clinic with the complaint of new onset ‘moving shadows in their vision”, it is the standard of care and obligation of the doctor to rule out any more serious pathologies of the eye such as retinal holes, tears, and detachments or vitreous hemorrhage, or diabetes, etc. Once the eyecare provider has determined that none of these conditions or other more rare pathologies exist, they appear to lose interest very quickly.
In addition it should be noted that the vitreous fluid exists in an isolated and privileged part of the body. There are no blood vessels or nerve endings in the vitreous. There are no living cells that are metabolically active or cells that would be responsive to changes in nutrition or supplements or micronutrients for that matter. The 99% water and 1% proteins that make up the vitreous fluid are in an inert part of the body.
Whenever a subspecialty range of medicine does not do something well, and historically we ophthalmologists have not treated eye floaters with any priority, it creates avoid and an opportunity for charlatans (even well-meaning ones) to step in to make money off your anxiety and grief. I have seen and read through many of the pseudoscientific claims which may sound reasonable to someone who is quite desperate to get some relief from their eye floaters. Putative claims of increasing blood flow to the eye or the common traditional Chinese medicine obsession with detoxing the liver should have no effect on the eye floaters of the eye. The proteins that aggregate in the vitreous (the floaters) have always been in your eye, they are normal and natural components of your body, and arguably they are not affecting the eye itself. It is the visual cortex of the brain and your subjective interpretation of what the world ‘should look like’ that is so disturbed.
The way I see it, there are essentially three options for those that suffer eye floaters:
1. Do nothing. This is a zero risk proposition assuming that your eye floaters are benign and not involving any eye health issues or retina problems.
2. Laser vitreolysis. This is the procedure that is the focus of my practice and professional career.
3. The surgical vitrectomy. This is the gold standard procedure most likely to remove the floaters, but it is more invasive with greater vision-threatening risks. In addition, the retina specialist who have the skills to perform this procedure, are generally not too interested in offering it to treat ‘just floaters’ because of the known risks.
Doing nothing is the zero risk proposition, but it is unlikely to improve the condition, of course. The laser treatment is usually not for younger patients due to the locations of the floaters, and the surgical vitrectomy would also not be offered for the microscopic floaters typical of younger patients due to the risks.
In the absence of good science to support it, I cannot recommend changing or avoiding activities, any specific supplements or dietary changes, etc. If there was a supplement or something that actually worked, I would be selling it through my website.
In short, I can not, and do not recommend anything to avoid, or to implement to improve your eye floater condition or to prevent it from getting worse as there is not good science to support these interventions.