YOUNG PATIENTS: WHAT CAUSED THIS? WILL IT GET BETTER? WILL IT GET WORSE?

I receive many, many email messages through this web site from eye floater-sufferers from all walk and from ages and from allover the world. As they are doing their research they may have stumbled onto this and other web sites – some of which are purely educational, and some, like my medical practice that may actually offer some relief from the unrelenting annoyance and distraction caused by these vitreous eye floaters.

Here is a typical inquiry from a younger patient:

Hello, I am XX and I am (20-39) years old. I have eye floaters that are driving me crazy and making me depressed. I have been to (2-3) eye doctors and they have told me that my eyes are very healthy and that it is nothing to worry about. I am (studying/working) at XX and I can not concentrate and do my tasks. I want:

a. you to tell me if this is going to get worse with time. I don’t think I will be able to stand it.
and/or
b. you to tell me what I can do to make it better
and/or
c. to come out for treatment

First, a disclaimer. We do not have a doctor-patient relationship and I can not give specific medical advice based on a few sentences in an email. Any response is for educational purposes only and more general in nature. With that aid, I will also state that not much is known about floaters in younger people. It is not well researched, and I do not see that changing in the near future.

Here are some general positions that I take of the etiology of your floaters:

  • I do not think that using your eyes, e.g. extensive studying and computer/mobile phone use contributes to the formation of eye floaters.
  • You looked toward the sun at the last eclipse? I don’t think that did it either.
  • You work near lasers? Laser energy may affect the retina, but it would pass right through the vitreous and not affect it.
  • You had LASIK and noticed floaters soon afterwards? That is possible. There is some distortion of the eye and possibly some inflammation afterwards.
  • You took an elbow or racquetball to the eye? Possible. Blunt injury can distort the eye momentarily and may cause some changes.
  • You are taking some new or different medication? Possible, but I haven’t seen or heard of any strong clusters of patients to come up with a list of possible culprits.
  • You masturbate a lot? (yes, I am talking to you Mr. Young Guy from India). No, that didn’t cause your floaters. If that were the case, my practice would be flooded with young men and their floaters. The old victorian-era admonition that masturbation caused blindness is ‘probably’ a myth and unrelated to eye floaters.

Many younger patients will often suggest a possible explanation for their floaters, and I may not necessarily agree, but I can not necessarily refute their theories. Here’s the deal: I don’t necessarily really need to know the “why’s”, I need to be more certain of the “how’s”. That is, I don’t need to know why you have floaters, I NEED TO KNOW IF YOU CAN BE TREATED SAFELY AND WITH A HIGH EXPECTATION FOR SUCCESS. When you write to me and tell me your age, I will quickly place you into an age category based on my extensive experience in evaluating and treating patients of all ages. Younger patients, regardless of the putative or assumed etiology, are not usually candidates for treatment with the laser as their floaters are usually located too close to the retina. As such, I am generally pretty pessimistic in response to their inquiries to my practice. Every initial consultation to my office is money collected, but out of respect to the need for travel to Southern California, lodging, etc., I believe that it is out of respect to the patient and their low likelihood of treatment success that I am not very encouraging to them. But, in spite of all this, I do not refuse appointments to younger patients with floaters. If you want to make an appointment for an evaluation and consultation, I will be glad to accommodate you.

-Dr. Johnson

About the Author :

START TYPING AND PRESS ENTER TO SEARCH