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Eye Floaters - Overlooked Causes and a Cure That Worked for Me

woman using keyboard
  Tight muscles in my head and neck from too much PC work increases my floaters. Research shows glaucoma is linked to extensive computer use, and I think floaters may be as well.

My Experiences

I've had floaters in both eyes, especially my left eye, for most of my life. Eye floaters are common conditions for many people in the general population, and especially common for people with connective tissue disorders. They are little specs that float around in your field of vision.

Sometimes the floaters in my eyes would increase in number and get very bothersome. I've had them checked out on numerous occasions by different opthamologists, but I was always told that otherwise my eyes seemed fine and that the floaters were nothing to worry about. If you have floaters, you should always have them checked out by a doctor as they can be signs of more serious conditions.

What Helped Me

I stumbled across how greatly reduce the number of my eye floaters by accident one day when I was using trigger point therapy to relieve a tension headache. I used to get many tension headaches just on the left side of my head -- the same side I saw most of my floaters on. I have mild scoliosis, my left shoulder is a bit higher and more forward than it ideally should be. It is also tighter than my right shoulder, and that general area around my left shoulder has more tension than other parts of my body.*

When I used trigger point therapy to massage the tension points on the left side of my head, my left eye floaters also decreased. I noticed after that that my floaters would increase whenever I was on the computer a lot and my left shoulder, arm and neck would get tight. They would decrease when I did yoga and trigger point therapy.

One of the reasons my left shoulder gets tight is that over time my torso tends to slightly twist to the right. This creates tight muscles in my front left shoulder and back right shoulder. To reverse this problem I do yoga poses that twist my torso to the left. This helps to relieve the tightness in my left shoulder, reduce my floaters, reduce the pain in the back of my neck and it even helps my occasional vertigo. For more on the specific yoga poses that helped me, see my section on yoga poses for eye floaters.

Adding more magnesium rich foods to my diet also seemed to help, as magnesium is the main nutrient responsible for muscle relaxation. I didn't realize it for many years, but I suspect now that tight muscles constricting nerve pathways and/or blood flow to the eye may contribute to seeing floaters.

I've notice that I see more floaters if I drink even a half a cup of coffee or more. I don't know if this is because the coffee tightens up my muscles, because coffee tends to deplete magnesium levels or there is some other reason. However, I have tracked my floaters on a number of occasions after drinking coffee and each time they have increased.

Since this site has been up I've had at least several emails from people who developed floaters after taking up weightlifting. One weightlifter also reported symptoms of a connective tissue disorder, including scoliosis. He said that when he eased up on the weight lifting, his floaters decreased. In his case he saw the floaters on the side where his shoulder was lower due to scoliosis.

Update April 18th, 2005: Yesterday I made a lot of progress getting the persistent knotted muscles relaxed in my left shoulder. I spent some time resting face down on my pillow with my face turned to the right, which stretched out the muscles in my neck and shoulder on the left side. I had avoided doing this in the past because it was uncomfortable because the muscles were so tight I had a hard time turning my face to the right. I also spent quite a bit of time on general yoga stretches to relieve tension in my shoulders and under arms and I was not on the computer at all.

Today when I woke up was the first time in a long time that I didn't see any floaters when I looked at the white ceiling in my bedroom. However, they started coming back again, very faintly, when I spent a lot of time on the computer in the morning. So I do suspect that at least in my case the floaters are caused by tight neck and shoulder muscles, since they went away when the muscles were lengthened and relaxed and came back after doing PC work.

Since this page has been up, one of my web site readers wrote to me who said he developed both floaters and scoliosis after receiving chiropractic treatment. He reported that his floaters disappeared when his spinal curvature was successfully corrected. Interestingly, a number of other people have emailed that they first started seeing floaters after having a back, neck, or repetitive strain injury in their upper body.

man iwth tight muscles from weightlifting
  Many of my readers report seeing floaters after taking up weight lifting.

Tight Muscles / Clues From Associated Conditions

Interesting Links: Eye floaters have been linked to glaucoma, glaucoma is linked to increased pressure in the eye, and a recent study linked glaucoma to extensive computer usage. A recent article on Yahoo! News noted that glaucoma has also been linked to weightlifting: researchers found that eye pressure increased during the breath-holding that was performed as a part of the training routine.

If you put all of these together, I suspect that muscular tension in the upper body from activities such as repetitive stress injuries from too much computer use or an activity like weight training that also tighten muscles puts pressure on nerves, veins and arteries leading to and from the eye, causing increased eye pressure, which in turn may be a factor in both floaters and glaucoma.

Here is my eye floater theory laid out -

Various combinations of factors such as computer usage / lifting weights / magnesium deficiency / coffee consumption / (which causes the body to lose magnesium and constricts blood vessels ) factor into

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Muscular tension in the neck and shoulder area which in turn

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Puts pressure on the veins, nerves and arteries leading to and from the eye, which puts pressure like a thumb pressing down and restricting the flow of water in a garden hose, and in turn may be a factor in

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Eye floaters, glaucoma + possibly other related eye disorders

The good news is that in my personal experience I have been able to reduce the number of floaters in my eyes by having a magnesium rich diet, avoiding coffee and other magnesium antagonists, limiting computer use, and practicing yoga and trigger point therapy to reduce tension in my upper body.

Related Study: Magnesium benefits glaucoma patients

Most doctor web sites claim that seeing a few floaters from time to time is normal and is not a matter for concern. However, I suspect that doctors are confusing what is common with what is desirable. It is normal for many people in the U.S. to be overweight, however that does not mean being overweight is either normal or desirable. I suspect the same is true for floaters - they may be a common condition, but probably not a sign of ideal health.

While I don't know the exact cause of floaters, I do suspect based on my experience and that of the readers who emailed me about their floaters that muscular tension putting pressure on the veins, nerves (perhaps the optic nerve) and/or arteries that connect to the eye may play a causative role in at least some cases of floaters.

* I also have problems with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) on my left side. (Click here for a good description and diagram of TOS.) I also have problems with my left shoulder joint popping.

Email on Floaters from One of My Site Visitors

The following email is from one of my web site readers recounting his experiences with weightlifting, stretching and eye floaters.

"Sandy,

I just wanted to send you a quick email regarding your "overlooked cause and treatment for eye floaters" page. Basically I got a huge onset of floaters about 7 months ago after doing heavy weight lifting, and then at the same time the muscle in the middle of my back completely knotted up to the point that I could not move. Since then, the floaters gradually got worse until 3 days ago when I decided I would try stretching my back and shoulders again. I hadn't done this too much since the floaters came.

For the last three days my floaters have been about 50 percent better (lighter), much easier to ignore, and I am sleeping better than I have in a long long time. I basically just do normal stretches to open up my back muscles, especially on the left side. At the same time, I just move my arm/shoulders around in a circular motion while doing those stretches. I haven't felt this good in a long time. After doing this randomly, I found your site which made me even more excited because it means I am not the only one and I may actually be able to sustain this. I have recently just began weight training again but not nearly as heavy as before. More just so that I am using all of my muscles. Anyways, just wanted to give you some positive feedback and hopefully more people can begin to feel better through this method!"

Reprinted with permission.

 

 

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Yoga for Eye Floaters

Nystagmus - involuntary movement of the eyes

Dislocated Lenses

Alternative treatments for tinnitus - ringing in the ears

Noise Sensitivity

Clogged Ears - Overlooked Causes

My experience and treatments for the symptoms of vertigo, nausea and cold feet

Stretches For Vertigo

 

Selected Links:

What are eye floaters?

 

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