In this guide, we will discuss the meaning of eye floater’s anxiety.
Eye floaters anxiety: what are they?
It has been suggested that psychological distress is more common in people with eye floaters and this condition can make people even more anxious, which increases the perception of eye floaters.
Stress has also been linked to the increased risk of developing eye problems. Therefore, treating the anxiety can help you reduce the levels of stress, it won’t make the eye floaters disappear but it will make it easier to live with the condition.
Places like beaches, coastal towns, and open spaces seem to make people with eye floaters very stressful. According to Elizabeth Sulis from Patient.info “Bright spaces, white skies, and minimalist decor suddenly become major sources of visual anxiety”.
But, what are floaters? Floaters can be described as “opacities” that are floating in the visual field and may be perceived as spots, threads, spiders or cobwebs moving as you move your eye, getting more notorious when looking at bright objects such as the blue sky, a blank canvas background or a bright wallpaper.
These seem to be common and often affect normal eyes. They tend to happen when there are changes in the jelly-like substance inside your eye or better known as the vitreous humor. These can be a symptom of a major eye complication such as a retinal tear or retinal detachment. Additionally, they seem to be more common in people who have had eye surgery and those with diabetic eye disease.
Does mental stress cause vision loss?
A study published in the Journal of Opthalmology in 2017 evaluated the degree and severity of psychological distress in patients with symptomatic vitreous floaters. They recruited 61 patients with symptomatic vitreous floaters and 34 controls.
They found that the group with symptomatic vitreous floaters suffered more psychological problems, such as depression, stress, and anxiety when compared to the control group, and the degree of floater-related discomfort was well correlated with the severity of their psychological distress.
Bearing this in mind, it seems that anxiety is an underlying issue derived from developing eye floaters and not the other way around. However, some say prolonged anxiety and stress can cause a higher risk of developing eye floaters.
A study from 2018 published in the EMA Journal suggests that prolonged mental stress is a consequence of vision loss and it may also aggravate the situation.
In fact, they stated “continuous stress and elevated cortisol levels negatively impact the eye and brain due to autonomous nervous system (sympathetic) imbalance and vascular dysregulation; hence stress may also be one of the major causes of visual system diseases such as glaucoma and optic neuropathy”.
In addition, they recommend stress reduction and relaxation techniques should not only be a part of the traditional treatments but also as preventive means to reduce the progression of vision loss.
Is there a treatment for the eye floaters?
In terms of treatment, experts recommend either YAG laser (vitreolysis) or vitrectomy surgery depending on the current impact the condition has over the sufferer since both treatment options carry potential risks.
YAG capsulotomy laser is less invasive than vitrectomy and it can be performed in the doctor’s office. The main idea with this type of treatment is to laser the large floaters reducing them in size for them to be less obstructive in the patient’s visual field.
This is especially recommended for patients with posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) which tends to happen when the eyes vitreous humor peels away from the retina, being a very common condition when we are over 60 but it can also happen earlier in life due to certain conditions.
However, there is no guarantee of improvement. In fact, it is believed that only a small proportion may improve their symptoms while the remaining experience either no improvement or worsening of the symptoms.
In contrast, vitrectomy is an invasive surgical procedure that involves making small incisions in the vitreous humor, replacing it with a saline solution. It is said to last between 30-60 minutes with the use of local or general anesthesia.
Additionally, this procedure carries the risk of infection, inflammation, bleeding and bruising around the eye, and even a major risk by developing a cataract.
Bearing this in mind, you need to inform yourself very well on the potential benefits and risks these type of either having a vitreolysis or a vitrectomy by consulting with your doctor.
When should I consider it an emergency?
According to Dr. Mary Lowth, who was a Suffolk GP for 20 years, the floaters are usually not serious or dangerous. However, you should contact your doctor, optician or visit emergency services if any of the following apply:
- They come on suddenly.
- There are large quantities of them.
- They are particularly disturbing.
- They cause pain, severe headaches, changes in your vision, grey shadows in your visual field or new onset of flashes.
- If you have had retinal detachment, an injury, eye surgery, other conditions affecting the retina or if you have very high short-sightedness (myopia).
- If you only have vision in one eye due to a prior condition, and you experience any new symptoms in your vision.
How do I cope with eye floaters?
There are some useful tips and tricks to cope with eye floaters but first of all, you need to try to stop thinking and worrying about them, I know it can be difficult since your visual field is affected but by stressing you will be worrying even more and possibly making them worse. The Calm Clinic suggests some of the following tips.
Tip 1: Ignore them
If you over worry about them being there then that will stress you even more and you will only end up feeling worse, even depressed. If you learn to ignore them, your brain will do too, getting used to the fact they are then will make it easier to cope with them.
However, if you see there are changes and your vision gets worse by the day then this is a major red flag and in this case, it is necessary not to ignore them and get immediate professional help.
Tip 2: wearing sunglasses on bright days
A good pair of sunglasses have the ability to reduce the amount of light your eye receives which will prevent your pupil from contracting as much in response to the bright light, making the floaters less visible.
Tip 3: Get enough sleep
It is important to get enough sleep because if you are not sleeping well then, your eyes will be highly sensitive to changes to light and brightness, which in term can make you see blurry spots in the corners of your eye causing even more confusion and distress.
Tip 4: Discuss surgery options with your doctor
If eye floaters are severely impacting your life or daily functioning then you may want to discuss treatment options with your doctor. They will advise which one is the best in your case but remember to keep in mind any risks or possible outcomes. Try only opting for surgery as a last resort and when necessary.
Tip 5: Keep yourself distracted
It is advised to find activities that can take your mind of worrying about the eye floaters. You can get a hobby or you can try doing other activities that can have a relaxing effect such as pottery, aqua aerobics, swimming, dancing or painting.
Tip 6: Get some help
If you are starting to feel depressed or even more anxious then we recommend getting professional help from a mental health advisor. They can help you develop techniques to cope with this stressful and frustrating situation which can help you learn how to get past them and gain control over the condition.
Other stress-related eye problems
Prolonged stress can cause other eye problems, however, they tend to be temporary. Some of them are listed as follows:
- Tunnel vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye twitching
- Very dry or wet eyes
- Blurry vision
Why is this blog post about eye floaters anxiety important?
It is important to bring awareness about the possibility of developing eye floaters, considered as normal as we age. Although, unless they get worse or cause any pain or vision loss then it becomes necessary to reach out to your doctor or emergency services.
Additionally, prolonged stress has been linked to contributing to developing eye problems or making them even worse. This is why coping strategies and techniques to deal with stress are necessary to improve the quality of life of people living with eye problems such as eye floaters.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about eye floaters anxiety
Does anxiety cause eye floaters?
It has been suggested that prolonged anxiety and stress can contribute to developing eye floaters. However, there are other related causes such as certain eye conditions, diabetes or normal aging.
How long do floaters in the eye last?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, floaters in the eye can go away on their own in a few weeks or months but if they get worse it is necessary to get help since it can signal a major problem such as retinal detachment.
How do I get rid of floaters in my vision?
The most used procedure to get rid of eye floaters is vitrectomy, which is an invasive surgery that can remove the eye floaters through a small incision in the white part of your eye.
When should I worry about eye floaters?
You should worry if you experience a sudden onset of new floaters that are accompanied by flashes of light, vision loss, pain or you have had eye surgery or trauma recently.
What are floaters caused by?
They are said to be a consequence of normal aging to the jelly-like substance inside our eyes or better known as the vitreous humor. When it starts becoming liquid instead of preserving the jelly-like aspect then microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on the retina.
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