Vitreous Floaters in the Eye

Myths: Nothing can be done about floaters.

Facts: There may be treatment and prevention through proper diet and supplements.

Certain nutrients such as those found in the classic Chinese formula “Rambling Powder” and Milk Thistle Extract may help alleviate floaters.

Overview: Floaters are an appropriate name for these small dark shapes that appear before your eyes, because float through your field of vision is precisely what they do. They are clumps of protein. These spots may look like dots, squiggles, strands or any of a hundred other shapes. Though annoying, floaters are harmless, and there are ways to prevent them through proper diet.

Warning: If you suddenly become aware of new spots in our vision, see your eye doctor right away to rule out serious problems.

Symptoms: Little dots or dust floating around your eye.

Causes: Most floaters are the result of bits of cells that remain in the vitreous humor after birth and float around when the vitreous becomes more liquified later in life.

Over 50% of people over 70 years of age report seeing floaters. Most floaters are age-related. The vitreous humour thickens and clumps as we age, and floaters result from the clumped vitreous gel.

Other spots can be caused by little bits of protein trapped within the eye during pregnancy. Trauma to the eye or breakdown of the vitreous humour may also cause spots and floaters. Many floaters remain in the eye for long periods of time before they gradually disappear.

Floaters are commonly found in nearsighted people and people with food allergies and candidiasis.

Vitreous detachment is also common in diabetics, but the highest rate of complaints of floaters is in people over the age of 70. This is when the prevalence of a vitreous detachment jumps from 10% of the population to 63%.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, floaters are an indication of congestion in the liver, kidney and colon. The herbs and nutrients we recommend below are chosen for their abilities to eliminate congestion in these organs in order to keep the vitreous of the eye clear from these annoying specks, as well as to help strengthen the retinal tissue and integrity of the blood vessels.

Finally, we believe chronic stress in one’s life may also play a role in the generation of floaters, so having a daily routine of relaxation and meditation is very important.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A sudden increase of floaters can be an indication of a vitreous or retinal detachment.

People who are very nearsighted and/or diabetic are particularly prone to floaters and retinal tears. If you suddenly new floaters, make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately. See “Drugs That Harm the Eyes” for a description of potentially harmful drugs.

Conventional Treatment: There is no specific treatment for floaters. In very severe cases, the doctor may consider doing a vitrectomy, in which the vitreous fluid is removed and replaced with an artificial gel.

There are a few eye doctors that are performing laser surgery for floaters, but one of the major criteria for one’s eligibility for this procedure is the location of the floaters in the vitreous fluid.

In one website, they described that most people that may be eligible for laser surgery would have had a post vitreous detachment (PVD), which sometimes pushes the floaters toward the middle of the eyes and away from the retina and lens.

This procedure has not yet been accepted by most of the medical community, probably due to the associated risks.

Complementary Treatment and Recommended Vitamins, Supplements, Herbs & Other Nutritional Products