Does anxiety cause Eye Floaters?

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In this blog we will explore whether Anxiety can cause eye floaters or Symptomatic Vitreous Floaters.

We will also explore what eye floaters are, and what are the treatment  options for Eye floaters. 

Does anxiety cause Eye Floaters?

Yes, there is a possibility that anxiety can cause eye floaters however, there is a lack of strong evidence based on clinical research and studies that can lead us to understand the cause and effect relationships between anxiety and eye floaters. 

The presence and perception of eye floaters is one of the more less understood symptoms of anxiety that is reported by people who have anxiety related disorders. There is a question of whether anxiety causes the floaters or whether the presence of floaters cause distress and anxiety.  

Eye floaters are small, particle-like objects that seem to float in one’s vision and these particles are not external particles but rather come from the vitreous gel from the back of our eye ball that become liquified over time and it is commonly reported as many different shapes and sizes. 

These floaters are often perceived when the individual is looking at a monochromatic background like the blue sky or a white wall and tend to appear as shapes in the form of threads, lines, dots and blotches. 

It has been observed that high levels of stress and related anxiety could be linked to the onset of floaters as well as the heightened perception and awareness of these floaters leading to more anxiety. 

In a study that evaluated the presence of psychological distress in people who have experienced eye floaters, found that there is some notable link between anxiety, stress, and the presence of eye floaters. 

For this study, 61 patients with symptomatic vitreous floaters were recruited with 34 controls who did not experience floaters. 

The researchers also assessed the levels of depression, stress, state, and trait anxiety through self report questionnaires. The participant’s severity of the floaters and  the degree of discomfort caused by the floaters were also assessed. 

The results of the assessments found that parotclants with Symptomatic vitreous floaters showed higher levels of psychological distress compared to the people who do not have this condition. 

It was observed that individuals that reported severe discomfort related to floaters reported higher depression, perceived stress, and state and trait anxiety compared to other groups that had milder floater distress and symptoms. 

While this study did find a link between floaters and psychological distress such as anxiety, there is more research to be done as to whether anxiety causes floaters or whether floaters caused the anxiety. 

The researchers concluded that there needs to be more research done in terms of the relationship between the two issues of anxiety and floaters to understand what direction the relationship follows- whether floaters cause anxiety or whether anxiety causes floaters. 

So the researchers noted that the exact causes and effect reaction was inconclusive according to the results of this particular study. 

While it is unclear whether anxiety can cause eye floaters it is also possible that eye floaters and the distress related to it can lead to anxiety and distress surrounding the issue of having to live with disturbed vision. 

This can cause much distress and anxiety in individuals with severe eye floaters which can further worse their state of well-being. So it is advisable that one must learn how to manage their anxiety and seek out treatment for floaters if it is causing distress. 

It is also possible that the stress surrounding anxiety could also be one of the causes of eye floaters. It could be the strain around one’s eyes caused by stressful routines and prolonged time spent working, straining under bright lights that could lead to more propiedad perception of a normal amount of eye floaters which could lead to more distress and more awareens. 

What are Eye Floaters?

Eye floaters are detached parts of the vitreous gel from the back of our eye ball that become liquified over time and it is commonly reported as many different shapes and sizes. 

Some people perceive it as tiny black specs, or like clouds, or like seeing a bug flying around their vision, or as small circles or lines in their vision.

These floaters are often perceived when the individual is looking at a monochromatic background like the blue sky or a white wall.

What causes Eye floaters?

Eye floaters are not external particles but rather they come from inside the eye particularly from the back of the eye. 

In the back of the eye there is a structure called the  vitreous gel. This gel structure loses it;s structure and strengths as it liquifies over time as we age 

When this liquefaction occurs, the structure separates from the retina in strands and clumps and the shadows of these fibres are projected on the retina, leading to floaters in your vision.

This process of separation of the structure from the back of the eyeball is called posterior vitreous detachment and occurs all throughout our lives and most common when we reach the age of 50-60.

While these floaters can be irritating, they are harmless. However if you notice that these floaters are obstructing your vision or causing light flashes in your vision. You must seek out medical help to treat it. 

Who is at Risk for having eye floaters?

Some of the risk factors that make it more likely to develop eye floaters include:

  • Ageing- older individuals are more prone to experience the symptoms of eye floaters. 
  • People who are nearsighted, or have high myopic prescriptions can develop it at a younger age. 
  • People who experience complications from cataract surgery
  • People who have eye tumours.
  • People who have experienced eye trauma.
  • Or people who have diabetic retinopathy.

When should you see your doctor for eye floaters?

You should see your eye doctor as soon as possible if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Large floaters or “showers” of floaters that come into view. 
  • Floaters that appear suddenly and obstruct your vision or view
  • Sudden flashes of light that also persist.
  • Loss of your side/peripheral vision in a way that it feels like something is blocking your view. 

What are the treatment options for eye floaters?

A few of the treatment options for severe cases of eye floaters include:

  • YAG laser (vitreolysis) which is a non invasive and non-surgical approach. It entails lasering large floaters and reducing them in size so that they are less obstructive to one’s view. 

This approach is usually recommended for conditions related to Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)which occurs when the clear fluid in the eyeball peels away from the retina due to ageing causing much larger, ring-shaped floaters (the Weiss ring).

  • Vitrectomy is a surgical approach that involves making small incisions in the white of the eye and the vitreous humour is removed and replaced with saline solution. The surgery is not a major surgery and the recovery period is quite short, two weeks but it carries risks such as infection, inflammation, bleeding and bruising around the eye, and cataract development. 

Other things you can generally do to live with floaters, provided that they are not life limiting include the following:

  • Learn to adapt because most of the time floaters tend to be small in size and not cause much problems in terms of vision. So learning how to adapt and ignore them could be one way. 
  • Rule out or treat underlying anxiety as anxiety can increase the individuals awareness and perception of floaters as stress is often related to the occurrence of eye problems. So taking the effort to deal with stress and anxiety can be one way to help yourself adapt to them.
  • Avoid bright lights and white walls and limit your time spent on screens and computers. 
  • Engage in routines that allow you to destress the area around your eye with a massage or an eye mask that is soothing. 
  • Get a good amount of sleep and rest so that it deals with underlying stress as well as the strain around your eyes. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have explored whether Anxiety can cause eye floaters or Symptomatic Vitreous Floaters.

We have also explored what eye floaters are, and what are the treatment  options for Eye floaters. 

FAQ related to Can Anxiety cause Eye floaters?

Can anxiety cause vision spots?

Yes, anxiety can cause vision spots due to continued strain and stress in and around the area. 

Does stress affect your eyes?

Constant stress levels can affect your eyes and lead to dilated pupils and an eventual light sensitivity. It can also cause twitching and tightening of eye muscles causing vision problems and eye discomfort.

How can I relax my eyes from stress?

A few things you can do to relax your eyes from stress and strain include:

  • Palming gently around the areas of your eye, do not put pressure on the eye.
  • Eye Massage 
  • Cover your eyes with an eye mask to block out all light.

What eye problems can anxiety cause?

There is a possibility that anxiety can cause various issues related to vision and the eye strain. These problems include:

  • Eye pain and discomfort.
  • Mildly blurred vision.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Eye floaters (spots that float across your eye).

How can I ease anxiety?

A few things you can do to cope with anxiety include:

  • Talking to a professional who works with anxiety.
  • Take a break from work 
  • Eat well-balanced meals that are nutritious. 
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise 
  • Meditate.

Can anxiety be cured?

Anxiety is not curable but, getting the right treatment for your anxiety in terms of both pharmacological treatment and therapy can help you manage anxiety and live fulfilling lives. 

References

Eye Floaters and Flashes. Milan Eye centre. Retrieved on 10th January 2022. https://www.milaneyecenter.com/eye-conditions/floaters-flashes/

Eye Floaters and Anxiety. The Panic Room. 20th August 2015. Retrieved on 10th january 2022.https://medium.com/@thepanicroom/eye-floaters-and-anxiety-a1ccec294e22

Folk.J. Floaters And Anxiety. AnxietyCentre.Com. Retrieved on 10th January 2022. https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-disorders/symptoms/floaters-anxiety/

Kim YK, Moon SY, Yim KM, Seong SJ, Hwang JY, Park SP. Psychological Distress in Patients with Symptomatic Vitreous Floaters. J Ophthalmol. 2017;2017:3191576. doi:10.1155/2017/3191576

Kim. E.S. How to live with severe eye floaters. Patient. Retrieved on 10th January 2022. https://patient.info/news-and-features/how-to-get-rid-of-eye-floaters

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