Do you sometimes see small spots or squiggly lines that just seem to pop or float through your field of vision?
They may especially stand out when you look at a bright object, such as a white piece of paper, a blank wall, or even a clear blue sky.
Although eye floaters may seem to annoy and irritate, in most cases they're not serious and don't usually interfere with your vision.
In this post, we'll take a look at what causes eye floaters, symptoms and treatment options, and natural remedies for eye floaters that may help to prevent worsening of symptoms and protect your vision:
Table of Contents
- What are Eye Floaters?
- Eye Floaters Causes
- Eye Floaters and Flashes
- Conditions That May Trigger Eye Floaters
- Eye Floater Treatment
- Natural Remedies for Eye Floaters
- Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam
- Check Your Blood Count
- Stay Hydrated
- Detox from Heavy Metals and Mold
- Maintain an Anti-inflammatory Diet
- Complement your Diet with Supplements
- Use Eye Protection
- Wear UV Blocking Sunglasses
- Get a Pair of Blue Light Blocking Glasses
- Give Your Eyes Some Rest
- Do Eye Exercises
- Make Sleep a Priority
- Key Takeaways
What are eye floaters?
You might think that the small dots, lines, circles, rings or cobwebs you see in your field of vision are in front of your eye, but they are actually floating inside your eye.
They may often come into view as black or gray flecks that seem to drift as you move your eyes or even when you try to look at the specks directly.
What you're actually seeing are eye floaters, tiny cellular masses or small clusters of gel inside the vitreous or back of the eye. Eye floaters may seem to be objects in front of the eye but are simply shadows that these clumps are casting on the retina of the eye.
The below image shows 4 different types of eye floaters:
Floaters get their name by how they "float" or move around in your eye, and how they drift away when you try to focus on them.
Everybody sees eye floaters differently. Some common symptoms of how eye floaters may appear for you include:
- Black dots
- Grey dots
- Squiggly and uneven lines
- Threadlike, transparent strands
Once you get eye floaters, they don't usually go away. However, you may notice that they fade, and you may notice them less as time progresses.
Eye Floaters Causes
What causes eye floaters? As we mentioned above, eye floaters are caused in the vitreous, which is at the back of the eye. Most eye floaters are tiny gel-like flecks of collagen, a type of protein.
When we are born and during our youth, the vitreous in the eye maintains a gel-like disposition.
With age, the vitreous might start to thicken up or shrink, and even begin to dissolve and become more liquid-like. Some of these gel particles or protein fibers may not dissolve, and can actually float in the watery center of the vitreous.
These strands, flecks or clumps that start forming in that area then cast shadows on the retina, which are what you perceive as eye floaters.
Since the floaters move as the watery vitreous gel in the eye is moving, you'll notice that when you try to focus on the floaters, you won't be able to — due to the constant movement of the vitreous. This makes it seem like they are always drifting or moving.
Eye floaters and flashes
Do you sometimes see flashes in your field of vision? These can be described as "lightning streaks" or "seeing stars" when you get hit on the head or feel dizzy.
If you see eye floaters off and on that is still okay, however, if you see a lot of floaters at once, especially if they come with flashes, then you should go see your eye doctor immediately.
A sudden incidence of flashes could mean that the gel-like vitreous is pulling away from the retina. This condition called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) occurs when the retina is dislodging from the inner lining of the vitreous (back of the eye). At times, in rare cases, the retina might even tear or develop a hole leading to what is known as retinal detachment, a serious condition that may cause considerable vision loss, and needs surgery.
This brief video below gives a detailed overview of what eye floaters are and when they might be a medical emergency:
PVDs are a lot more common than a detached retina and are not often a serious medical emergency, but you still need to see an eye care professional who can ascertain the seriousness of the condition.
Conditions that may trigger eye floaters
You might be more predisposed to getting eye floaters if you:
- are between the ages of 50-75
- suffer from migraines
- have headaches
- are nearsighted (need prescription glasses for distance)
- have inflammation or swelling in the eye
- have bleeding in the vitreous of the eye
- have had eye surgery (cataracts)
- have retinal detachment or a torn retina
- have diabetic retinopathy
- have an eye injury
- have an eye tumor
Although eye floaters are common and are no real cause for concern, they may indicate a more serious underlying condition. It's important to visit your eye care professional so they can rule out any contributing factors.
If your doctor does not find a link to any other conditions, keep reading for treatment options, tips and natural remedies on how to deal with eye floaters.
Eye Floater Treatment
Many eye doctors actually recommend ignoring your eye floaters, as the best form of treatment, rather than resorting to invasive eye surgery. This is because, over time, the floaters may fade or even disappear. And even if they don't fade away, your brain may get used to the eye floaters and learn to ignore them, so they don't seem to be as noticeable as they may have been before.
Also usually with time, eye floaters sink to the bottom of the eye as the vitreous liquefies, and as the bottom of the eye is responsible for overhead vision which is mostly blocked by eyelashes or eyebrows, the eye floaters then become barely noticeable and bothersome.
If they do seem to constantly annoy you, you can move your eyes up and down, or your head to one side, to shift the fluid in the vitreous so that the floaters get out of your field of vision.
However, if the floaters are really starting to become a nuisance and are significantly impacting your quality of life, you can discuss other treatment options with your doctor, as we'll discuss below.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure that involves a tiny incision to remove the vitreous fluid, and the eye floaters with it, from your eye.
The vitreous fluid is then replaced with a clear sterile solution to make sure the shape of your eye is maintained. In time, your body will produce more vitreous and will replace the artificial solution inserted at the time of surgery.
Being an invasive procedure, a vitrectomy is reserved for very severe cases, as it can cause complications such as a torn or detached retina, inflammation, or bleeding or trauma in the eye. There is also a chance of a clouding of the lens post-surgery which may lead to the early onset of cataracts, requiring another surgery.
There is also no guarantee that the floaters will not return. And any of the above complications can even permanently damage vision, causing vision loss. For these reasons, many eye care professionals do not recommend vitrectomy surgery as a recommended eye floater treatment.
A newer treatment for eye floaters, laser treatment is often more effective for those who have larger floaters obstructing their field of vision.
Laser vitreolysis or YAG laser vitreolysis is a pain-free procedure that takes place in the eye doctor's office, where a laser beam is targeted through the pupil at large floaters, breaking them up into smaller pieces, or dissolving them altogether.
However, not just anyone can be eligible for this type of procedure. There are several factors including your age, the progression of symptoms, and floater size and location that your eye doctor will consider before recommending YAG laser eye treatment.
For example, those who have eye floaters that are too close to the retina may not be eligible, as if the laser is aimed inaccurately, there may be a risk of retinal damage.
So, does laser treatment work?
Well, the procedure is still seen at the experimental stage and according to research "YAG vitreolysis is an untested treatment for floaters." This is because there have been mixed results with some seeing improvement, some with no improvement, and some who may even have worsened symptoms.
However, in a 2017 "randomized clinical trial that included 52 patients randomized to receive YAG laser vitreolysis vs sham laser vitreolysis, the YAG laser group reported greater improvement in symptoms than the sham group."
Which Treatment to Choose?
So should you undergo vitrectomy surgery or laser treatment?
There are a few things to consider when deciding how to deal with floaters and which treatment to pursue.
If your floaters are not really bothersome it is best to leave them alone. But there are a few reasons when you feel you may need a more permanent solution, including:
- Difficulty reading or working (affecting your personal and professional career)
- Feel unsafe when driving (floaters can drift into your vision suddenly and startle)
- Feel that your quality of life is affected in a significant way
So if you are constantly bothered by persistent floaters, talk to your eye doctor about the best treatment options for you.
Natural remedies for eye floaters
Improving your vision health, in general, can help to strengthen the eyes and may help to prevent eye floaters and other vision problems.
Below, we'll cover some valuable tips and natural remedies for eye floaters that you can incorporate into your daily life to protect your vision and maintain your ocular health.
Get a comprehensive eye exam
Even if you have a few eye floaters that aren't necessarily bothering you, it is still advisable to get a comprehensive eye exam. According to the AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology), even if you don't have any vision issues, an eye exam is recommended when you hit the age of 40. And, if you're 65 or older, you should be having annual eye doctor visits.
The reason for this is because often any underlying conditions such as a tumor in the eye, or diabetic retinopathy, that may be accompanied by eye floaters, may not present any changes to your vision, so you might not even know you have a certain condition until an eye doctor looks into and examines the back of your eye.
Since there are many possible contributing factors to the appearance of eye floaters that we mentioned here, it is best to visit your eye care professional to have your eyes checked during a comprehensive eye exam.
Check your blood count
A sudden increase in white blood cells due to an infection or inflammation in the body may also cause eye floaters. If a blood test reveals this in the blood count, a dose of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may help to combat floaters.
Water is no doubt essential to every cell in the body, and the same goes for all the parts in your eye. One reason eye floaters may be caused is due to the collagen part of the vitreous not being oxygenated or hydrated enough, leading to its shrinking.
Therefore, staying hydrated is essential to improve eye hydration, moisture levels, and overall eye health. But that's not all.
Eye floaters can also be caused due to toxin buildup and drinking water is by far one of the best ways to flush out toxins and heavy metals from the body.
Detox from heavy metals and mold
In this insightful podcast, homeopathic ophthalmologist, Dr. Edward Kondrot mentions (at 17:45) that a poor diet may lead to floaters along with heavy metal toxicity and recommends a 6-hour urine test to check for heavy metals. He states that many of the patients he sees that have floaters have elevated levels of lead and mercury.
Research shows that heavy metals do accumulate in 'human ocular tissues" including the vitreous.
If you have eye floaters, you should also keep a look out for any mold in your home or workplace. Mold is a fungus that flourishes in warm, humid or wet conditions.
In your home or office, it can be caused due to moisture and water condensation as a result of poor ventilation. You can find it in your bathroom, near sinks, on and under tiles, AC vents, window sills, the fireplace, basement, and attic. Mold is very harmful and can cause many health problems, including respiratory problems, skin irritation, and more serious health conditions. When it comes to vision health, it can cause blurred vision, red eyes, and even eye floaters.
If you know you have mold in your house and want to prevent it, you should take precautions such as controlling the temperature (humidity) in your home, checking for leaks and thoroughly cleaning. You might even need to have it professionally removed.
To eliminate and detoxify the body from mold and heavy metals, you can also consider taking a supplement such as organic chlorella for eyes as part of your detoxification routine, which is known to "chelate" or bind to toxins and helps to eliminate stubborn toxins such as mercury, lead and cadmium from the body and prevents them from being reabsorbed.
Chlorella also contains potent antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein that support vision health, protecting against AMD (age-related macular degeneration), eye strain and fatigue, cataracts and even vision loss.
Maintain an anti-inflammatory diet
Research has often shown that inflammation is the root cause of many diseases. Introducing natural anti-inflammatory foods and supplements into your daily diet is a great way to help the body fight inflammation and prevent disease.
Leading eye experts suggest that "not only does system wide inflammation lead to degenerative eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts it is the precursor to most diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. The good news is that we can improve our health at the cellular level by decreasing pro-inflammatory responses and increasing our anti-inflammatory activities."
Eating nutrient-rich foods that contain potent antioxidants such as leafy greens, foods high in omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, and replacing unhealthy saturated fats with healthier unsaturated fats is not only essential to maintaining a healthy body, but also improving vision health.
Add the below anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to deter eye floaters:
- organic berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and cherries
- dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens
- wild Alaskan salmon, tuna or other fatty fish
- citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit
- antibiotic-free eggs
- extra-virgin olive
- coconut oil
- raw nuts (almonds and walnuts) and seeds (pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds)
- whole grains and legumes
Alongside adding anti-inflammatory foods, it is also best to eliminate foods that cause or provoke inflammation. These include:
- soda, store-bought fruit juices, sweetened beverages
- refined carbohydrates (white bread, cakes, pastries)
- fried foods, barbecued foods, and smoked foods
- red meat (steak, burgers)
- processed meat (cold-cuts, sausages, salami, hot dogs)
- caffeine (coffee, soft drinks)
- margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oil, shortening, lard
It is also best to cut sugar and try to maintain a gluten-free diet if possible.
Complement your diet with supplements
It is not always possible to get all of your nutrition from food, in the quantities you need it in. Therefore, it is essential to complement your anti-inflammatory diet with key nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, in the right therapeutic amounts, that can support vision health and deter the appearance of floaters.
In his podcast Dr. Kondrot mentions several key nutrients that can help to prevent floaters (at 23:35):
This is a clear glutinous substance produced by the body and found mainly in the connective tissues, skin and the eyes. It helps to keep the tissues hydrated and lubricated. It also supports the gel-like quality of the vitreous and the connective tissues of the eyes.
As we age, the body produces less hyaluronic acid, and several studies have shown that eye drops containing 0.2% to 0.4% hyaluronic acid can help reduce dry eye symptoms, reduce inflammation, accelerate wound healing and protect the gel-like vitreous.
Glucosamine is a chemical that occurs naturally in the fluid surrounding the joints and is also important to maintain connective tissue integrity in the eye. If you have joint problems or suffer from arthritis and osteoarthritis along with having floaters, you could consider adding glucosamine sulphate to your supplement list, as it has shown to have positive results for some people.
However, it is advised to talk to your eye doctor first, as a study has shown that glucosamine may increase eye pressure.
As emphasized by Dr. Kondrot, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and supports the production of collagen in the body (and since the vitreous is made of collagen, anything that strengthens it will help to deter eye floaters).
In fact, scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency), although rare today, is actually a collagen deficiency. The other reason vitamin C is important is because it is a good chelating agent, so it binds to toxins and helps to eliminate them from the body.
Research has also shown that long-term supplementation with vitamin C can also potentially reduce the risk of cataracts in the eyes by 45%.
Dr. Kondrot recommends finding a good source of vitamin C, one that is not sourced from GMO or genetically modified ingredients or imported from China, as that can be contaminated with heavy metals and toxins.
Although you can get some vitamin C from foods such as citrus foods and leafy greens, to get it in the therapeutic amount required we recommend supplementing with black currant seed oil that contains 4 times the amount of vitamin C as oranges!
In fact, black currant oil is one of the primary plant-based sources of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) or omega 6 fatty acid, essential for fighting inflammation and disease.
Blackcurrants also contain high levels of anthocyanin polyphenols, which help to fight free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation, "owing to their antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties."
Blackcurrant anthocyanins have also shown to increase "levels of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid" which may all help to support a healthy vitreous.
At GoodLifeProvision our black currant seed oil is extracted using a non-toxic hexane method and is a 100% pure natural formula containing no GMOs, is gluten-free and contains no added additives like soybean oil. Made in the USA!
Our unique formula contains 140mg GLA, enhancing the benefits, so you get the most out of each supplement.
The recommended dosage is two soft gels at 1000mg per day.
Antioxidants and Carotenoids
Studies have shown that "proper nutrition, possibly including use of antioxidant supplements for the nutritionally impoverished, along with healthy life styles may provide the least costly and most practical" means in delaying age-related maculopathy (ARM) and cataract (ARC), two leading causes of blindness around the world.
Research also suggests that "after middle age there is a decrease in the production of antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes" and being exposed to artificial light "either causes or exacerbates age-related ocular diseases."
So, it could be said that an antioxidant deficiency along with the constant use of digital devices, could possibly lead to conditions such as eye floaters. One key carotenoid we recommend for maintaining eye health and reducing floaters is astaxanthin.
Studies have shown that astaxanthin helps to increase retinal capillary blood flow, reduce double vision, support eye fatigue, and computer strain, alleviate dry eyes and improve visual function and acuity in AMD (age-related macular degeneration).
Natural sources of astaxanthin include salmon, shrimp, krill and lobster (it's the pigment that gives them their reddish-pink color), but it's near to impossible to get the therapeutic dose of this key nutrient only from food.
The best natural source of astaxanthin is Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae which is proven to be 50x stronger than the synthetic form of this nutrient in singlet oxygen quenching and 20x more powerful in eradicating free radicals.
GoodLifeProvision's antioxidant-rich natural Astaxanthin supplements are the real deal! Produced in the USA these supplements help to restore eye health, but also help to improve joint health, maintain skin and hair, aid in muscle recovery and a lot more!
Along with carotenoids such as astaxanthin, betacarotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, lycopene is also a potent antioxidant, mostly found in tomatoes. Lycopene supplements can help the body combat free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage.
The National Eye Institute recommends eating a diet rich in two key nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, to lower your risk of developing AMD and other degenerative eye conditions that could cause floaters.
Sources of these carotenoids include colored bell peppers, cooked spinach and kale, broccoli, egg yolks, and kiwi. Pumpkin seed oil supplements are also highly rich in zeaxanthin, and aid in protecting the retina.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), pumpkin also contains lutein along with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc making it an excellent supplement to support eye health.
Spirulina, a blue-green algae considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, also contains high amounts of zeaxanthin. One study showed that "spirulina can serve as a rich source of dietary zeaxanthin in humans," and "may reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration." Organic spirulina supplements also support natural detoxification and benefit eye, brain and skin health.
Although most supplements are considered to be safe during pregnancy, pregnant or nursing women should talk to their healthcare providers prior to taking any supplements.
Use eye protection
Did you know that using the right eye protection can prevent 90% of accidental eye injuries? An eye injury may trigger eye floaters so it is best to always wear eye protection whether you're playing a sport, doing woodworking or gardening or using harsh chemicals for cleaning.
The last thing you want is something hitting your eye at high impact, strong chemical fumes getting into your eyes, or flying debris getting lodged in your eye, and adversely affecting your vision.
Wear UV blocking sunglasses
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be extremely damaging to your eyes, and most people don't actually realize it, as the symptoms may not be immediate.
UV radiation has shown to lead to cataract formation, macular degeneration, and pterygium, an abnormal growth on the white of the eye that can block vision. All of this can weaken the eye and may lead to eye floaters. So to be safe, and protect from floaters, and other vision problems down the road, we can't stress how important it is to wear UV blocking sunglasses.
Make sure to buy a pair that blocks out 99% of both types of UV rays (UV-A and UV-B), and make sure to wear them whenever you're outdoors in any weather.
Get a pair of blue light blocking glasses
Just like the rest of your health, when it comes to vision care, prevention is always better than trying to find a solution to a problem. If your work involves sitting on a computer for over 8 hours a day, or you're hooked to your phone all day, or you're around artificial lighting, get a pair of blue-light blocking glasses.
These glasses are just regular glasses with a special coating that blocks out blue light. Blue light or high-energy visible light (HEV) is emitted by digital devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets) and artificial lighting and can potentially lead to serious conditions such as age-related macular degeneration that can even cause vision loss.
Blue light also inhibits the production of melatonin (the body's sleep hormone) which can make it harder to fall asleep, and not getting a proper night's sleep or staying up late can cause eye strain, which can be quite damaging for vision health, and may contribute to the appearance of floaters.
Therefore, it is incredibly important to cut screen time each day as un-rested, weaker eyes may be more predisposed to develop floaters.
Give your eyes some rest
Did you know that according to a report by The Vision Council, 90% of people who use a computer for at least 3 hours will get vision issues "associated with computer eye strain."
And, three hours is really just the bare minimum. Most people spend at least 7-8 hours on a computer at work, and more hours using a digital device such as their phone or tablet.
If you find yourself spending a lot of time in front of a screen, it may weaken and strain your eyes, and fatigued eyes may also trigger eye floaters. So it is important to relieve eye strain by resting your eyes.
Here are three things you can do daily to relax your eyes:
Follow the 20-20-20 rule
"Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds."
This could be something as simple as looking out the window, or to the furthest wall in the room.
Massage your temples
Close your eyes and gently massage your temples (the area on the side of your head, between the forehead and the ears). The area starts after your eyebrows end and falls right behind the eye.
Warm and cold compresses
Alternating between both hot and cold compresses can provide much-needed relief to the eyes and help to relax them. Wet a washcloth with warm water and leave it over your eyes for 2 minutes. Do the same with a washcloth dipped in ice water. Repeat a few times.
Do eye exercises
If you constantly get eye strain and fatigue, doing regular eye exercises are a great way to strengthen eye muscles and build up their resistance.
Like all muscles in the body, if you don't work out your eye muscles, they will get weaker and may lead to eye floaters.
Strengthen eye muscles and combat eye floaters by performing the following eye exercises:
Simple eye-rolling clockwise and anti-clockwise done for a few minutes each day is a great way to get all of your eye muscles working.
Rub your hands together to slightly warm your fingers. Now place your palms on your eyes lightly (do not press into the sockets) and stare into blackness. Do this for around 5 minutes while paying attention to your breath. The warmth and pressure from your hands helps to rest the eyes, relieving ocular muscle tension and eye strain.
Focusing on an object
Point your index finger and hold it upward around 6 inches in front of your face. Now, slowly move it away from your face keeping your eyes focused on it as it is moving. Once you've gone the furthest you can go, pull it back again, until it is around 6" away. Do this at least twice a day.
You can also follow the preventative eye exercise protocol on this page. Each day of eye exercises is to be done twice a day (morning and evening) and is encouraged to be repeated in 90-day intervals.
Make sleep a priority
You may find yourself browsing Instagram or binge-watching your favorite show well past midnight, only to find you wake up groggy the next morning with strained eyes. If sleeping five hours or less is a norm for you, you may even find that you're starting to get blurry or double vision and rubbing your eyes more to stay in focus throughout the day.
Most people don't realize that just like any muscle in the body that cannot work for long hours without getting fatigued and needing rest, the eyes are the same. However, many people take their vision for granted — until they start having problems like eye floaters.
Sleeping is one of the best ways to help the eyes recover from fatigue, dissuade the development of floaters and prevent vision problems.
- Eye floaters may be annoying but can often clear up on their own
- It's important to get a comprehensive eye exam to make sure you don't have any underlying eye conditions accompanying your floaters
- If your eye floaters are significantly impairing your vision, treatment options are available
- Deter the appearance of your eye floaters and avoid further damage to your eyes by staying hydrated, eating anti-inflammatory foods and complementing with nutrient-rich supplements
- Also make sure to cut screen time, wear protective eyewear, perform eye exercises and give your eyes some rest