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No previous generation has been as focused on health and wellness as Baby Boomers. This section is devoted to helping you stay healthy and fit, while also making sense of the information overload.
Vitreous Detachments

If you are a Baby Boomer, you may have already experienced the annoying, yet mostly harmless experience of seeing floaters in your eyes. Resembling half-moons, dust motes or other misshapen pieces of flotsam in the eye, lots of older adults experience them and may not know what they are or why they have made their presence known.


Floaters or “vitreous detachments” usually happen to those who are nearsighted. Most of the eyeball is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps maintain its round shape. The vitreous contains millions of fibers that are attached to the retinal surface (the retina is the light sensing layer at the back of the eye.) As we approach middle age, the vitreous slowly shrinks away from the retina, and if the fibers pull free, it becomes detached.


As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina which you may notice as a gradual increase in floaters. (You may not have realized it, but we have all had floaters since birth. We just weren’t aware of them.)


When the vitreous detaches, the number of floaters suddenly increases.


The vitreous detachment can sometimes be dangerous, though, and this is important: Most of the time the floaters are merely annoying, but once in awhile some of the vitreous fibers pull so hard on the retina that one or more retinal tears or holes are created. These can lead to a retinal detachment -- a much rarer problem that threatens vision.


If you have a sudden occurrence of a vitreous detachment, your eye needs to be examined as soon as possible for retinal tears by an eye doctor. A retinal detachment is an emergency. You should make an immediate appointment with an eye doctor. If this is not possible, go to an emergency service or hospital. It is important for your eye to be examined by an eye surgeon as soon as possible. Early treatment can often prevent permanent loss of vision.


For the most part, floaters are just one more thing that we have to live with as we age. I’m compiling a list of these kinds of things, and unfortunately, it’s getting pretty long. But then you probably already knew that.


(Editor’s note: The information was taken from a flyer provided by the Eye Physicians and Surgeons, LTD, Pittsburgh, PA).


By Teresa K. Flatley



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