Sensations

What to Do When Eye Floaters Cause Anxiety

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10th, 2020

What to Do When Eye Floaters Cause Anxiety

When something seems to be wrong with your body, it can help you feel anxious. Your eyes are are sensory organs, and the thought of going blind or developing vision problems can be terrifying.

Eye floaters are translucent shapes that float across your vision in the form of wiggly lines,web shapes or dots which sit on top of a solid background color. But what are they really, and what can you do to keep them from causing you anxiety?

Questions You May Have About Floaters

One of the most important things to remember is that one of the symptoms of anxiety is over analysing every day thoughts. For example, someone without anxiety wakes up with back pain, stretches and ignores it, however, someone with anxiety when they waken up with back pain, worry they may have hurt their back and may think that anxiety may also have caused it, etc.

If you're worried about eye floaters see an eye doctor.

When floaters are making you anxious, there are probably a few questions that run through your head. These answers will hopefully help you to feel calmer about their existence.

  • Am I Seeing Things? No. Eye floaters are actual physical material, rather than visual illusions. Specifically, they are microscopic deposits of varying sizes and shapes that float within the eye’s vitreous humor (the transparent, gel-like substance that fills the eyeball). They cast shadows on the eye’s retina and can refract light, making them almost seem to “glow.”
  • Why Do I Have Them? Almost 98% of the time, they occur due to natural imperfections that develop within the vitreous humor. The vitreous humor is made of water and solid elements (namely natural collagen and “hyaluronic” acid). When the vitreous humor shrinks with age, the collagen is broken down into the tendril developing the dot like deposits that you see. The other 2% of the time, they occur due to either retinal detachment (also a natural occurrence later in life), or to retinal damage. Detachment, however, causes massive numbers of eye floaters all at once and many other symptoms.
  • How Common Is This Condition? The condition of seeing floaters is common enough to have its own official name. The clinical term for the condition of seeing floaters is “myodesopsia.” It is a fairly common condition that naturally occurs as a person ages and the clear vitreous humor within the eye develops imperfections.
  • Can They Happen To Young People Too? Yes, floaters can happen at any age, but they are not the same as those that older people have. The floaters that young people have become the floaters that older people experience.
  • When Are Floaters Considered mild or severe? Floaters can be mild or severe and are not usually serious. If your vision isn’t affected and they’re not getting worse, it’s not usually a sign that anything is wrong However, if they arrive suddenly with floaters increasing in numbers or you experience pain or blurred vision then this could be a sign of a serious eye problem which needs to be treated urgently.
  • Is It Possible To Look at Floaters Directly? Floaters will drift slowly through your vision, to help prevent this, try lying on your back and looking straight up into a blue sky. Lying down will cause the floaters to drift to the back and center of your eye, which should place them at the center of your vision.

How to Treat Eye-Floaters and Floater Anxiety

Fortunately, eye floaters are not dangerous, and are rarely severe enough to cause vision problems. When floaters are this severe, a procedure called a “vitrectomy” is performed to remove as much of the floater as possible. While these procedures are usually successful, complications can include more serious eye problems such as cataracts and optic nerve damage.

Mild floaters are frequently invisible, except when you happen to be staring at a monochromatic background or when they catch the light in bright sunlight. To stop thinking and worrying about your eye floaters, try the following tips:

  • Wear Sunglasses on Bright Days Sunglasses help to reduce the amount that your pupils constrict in response to bright light, which makes floaters less visible. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes. However, you don’t want to have to wear sunglasses all the time.
  • Get More Sleep If you are not sleeping well your eyes will become more uncomfortable in bright light but blurry spots in the corners of your eye may cause you extra confusion and distress. Getting extra sleep will help your body relax and recharge, reducing stress levels and simultaneously reducing the intensity of your reactions to stimuli such as eye floaters.
  • Join a Club or Group Counter intuitively, quiet environments can sometimes increase your stress. If your life is very solitary or lacks activity, it may be easier for stressful thoughts and feelings to overcome you simply because there is nothing else to distract you.There are many different types of clubs, for example, knitting, reading and running clubs, so choosing the one that feels most comfortable for you, will encourage you to be more proactive. Discovering and learning interesting things whilst meeting new people can help you engage with other interests rather than focussing too much on yourself.
  • Stay Active Sitting still and doing nothing may cause your mind to register floaters, resulting in obsessive worrying and panic. When you start to feel this way, get up and take a walk, go for a bike ride, play with a pet or talk to a friend; you’ll soon notice that the floaters no longer seem as important anymore.
  • Talk to Someone If you are still in doubt or concerned about your floaters, talking to a doctor may help alleviate those fears. If the doctor tells you not to worry, and the above techniques have not helped you to relax, it may be time to talk to a therapist to help you overcome the nagging thoughts that have been worrying you.

Eye floaters themselves can’t hurt you, but worrying about them too much can. Keeping yourself busy, as well as healthy in body and mind, can be a great help in overcoming your eye floater anxiety.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Ask Doctor a Question

Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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