Eye Health: Preventing Vitreous Detachments as we Age – and Getting Rid of Eye Floaters
by Nils Osmar. May 2, 202
Eye floaters are an age-related problem. Most of them are caused by either vitreous detachments or retinal detachments.
NOTE: Floaters in themselves aren’t dangerous, but can sometimes be an indication of an eye problem that needs immediate medical attention, such as a retinal detachment. If you have a sudden surge in eye floaters, take it seriously and get to a doctor immediately for an evaluation. The information in this article is, of course, not intended as, and is not a substitute for, medical advice.
Where floaters come from
Most floaters are caused by age-related changes that that place when the vitreous gel (a jelly-like substance inside of our eyes) starts losing its solidity and becoming more liquid.
As the gel shrinks, the fibers attaching it to the retina can break loose and be left floating around in the vitreous gel. (If the fibers tear the retina as they break free, if the damage isn’t repaired surgically, the result can be blindness in that eye.)
What we perceive as floaters are shadows cast on our retina by these breakaway strands of protein and collagen.(They can also be caused by damage or trauma to the eye.)
By some estimates, 70 percent of the population suffers from eye floaters. To some it’s a minor irritation; to others, a major nuisance. For some people floaters can become severe, seriously occlude vision, and make activities such as driving at night dangerous.
The aging process is the culprit
We’re not close yet to totally curing aging, but if we get there someday, we might be able to prevent the degradation of the collagen fibers from occurring in the first place. (If the vitreous isn’t aging, would age-related vision problems develop?)
But till that happens, we need to figure out how to deal with problems like this as they come up.
My vitreous detachment
My eyes have always seemed healthy. But I had a vitreous detachment a few weeks ago. It occurred with no real warning, and left me with a couple of rather murky, dark floaters in one of my eyes.
I started looking for information on getting rid of floaters. I found one particular study — Treatment of Symptomatic Vitreous Opacities with Pharmacologic Vitreolysis Using a Mixure of Bromelain, Papain and Ficin Supplement –interesting.
Could eating pineapple help?
- The study I cited above suggests that eating pineapple (which is rich in proteolytic enzymes) may be a way of both getting rid of floaters and, according to the study’s authors, “eliminating intraocular hemorrhage”.
- From the study: “We demonstrated that mixed-fruit-enzyme including bromelain, papain and ficin may excise SVOs and even eliminate intraocular hemorrhage by cleaving the collagen fibrils and cellular debris that may induce ocular floaters.“
- Participants were given one, two or three slices. The effect was dose dependent, with those eating more pineapple losing more floaters and losing them more quickly.
- The study is promising, but needs to be explored further with follow-up studies. This video discusses the study, and is a good overview both of its strengths and weaknesses.
Could autophagy (from fasting) dissolve floaters?
Autophagy is a natural process which (among other things) removes debris from our cells and can removed damaged (senescent) cells from our bodies. Could it dissolve the collagen fragments in our vitreous gel? There are some anecdotal reports online suggesting that it might, but I haven’t found any studies verifying that this is the case.
MSM eye drops?
Could MSM (a form of sulfur) be an effective treatment – either as a supplement or in the form of eye drops? Again, I’ve found claims online that it could get rid of floaters through a generalized anti-inflammatory action, and anecdotal reports from some who’ve tried it and claimed that it worked. But again, no research studies.
Some floaters do disappear by themselves, so it may be that they just happened to disappear for some people around the time they started fasting or using MSM eye drops. Or it could be that some of the “home cures” people are promoting online actually do work.
Supporting eye health
One thing I’ve started doing to support my eye health (and vitreous gel) is making more of an effort to stay hydrated. There’s evidence that vitreous detachments can caused (in part) by dehydration. This is easily solved by drinking more water during the day.
I’ve also started taking supplements which are associated with eye health. The ones I’ve added recently include:
- BioAstin Astaxanthin Bioastin costs about twice as much per gram as other astaxanthin supplements, but in my experience is a much better product. I took a cheap brand for a while but it became evident after a while that it wasn’t real astaxanthin. I take 12 mg/day of bioastin’s product
- Puritan’s Pride Lutein – I’ve found PP to be an inexpensive brand but a good one, at least for lutein
- Zeaxanthin – (included in the Puritan’s Pride product)
- Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance (also includes copper). Jarrow has excellent quality control; it’s about twice the cost of other companies’ supplements but is worth it to me. Zinc is essential to eye health.
- Vitamin C – I like Mercola’s liposomal vitamin C.
- B Vitamins – I haven’t really found an ideal supplement for B vitamins and am open to suggestions. I do eat liver powder three days a week, which is naturally rich in a balanced B complex.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – I take both krill oil and fish oil
- DoNotAge Hyaluronic Acid. DoNotAge’s HMW HA formula was developed in consultation with Dr. Vera Gorbunova; to my mind it’s the best HA product out there. I took it for a few months last year but had drifted away from taking it; I wish I hadn’t. I resumed taking it this week. It’s also good of course for skin and brain health.
Dealing with floaters
- I’m also taking a few supplements hoping to get rid of some floaters, including American Health “Super Papaya Enzyme Plus”, Bromelaine, and Doctor’s Best Serrapeptase.
- As soon as I can get to the store, I’ll add eating pineapple. The enzymes are located mainly in the (hard) core pineapple, a part people usually discard. I may just try juicing the entire pineapple, “peel” and all, as the peel is also very rich in proteolytic enzymes.
- A “quick fix” when floaters become irritating is putting on a pair of dark glasses. What we’re seeing are the shadows cast by the collagen fibers. Reducing the light level can sometimes make the shadows less noticeable.
I liked your floater article. Any advice on tinnitus and enhancing your sense of smell ?Indeed generally, awakening and sharpening the senses may be worth a blast.