One of the many challenges of aging is that you may start to notice blurry spots or shadows that seem to float around in your vision. No matter how many eye baths you take or eyedrops you squirt, they won’t go away. This is because floaters are not on your eye but inside your eye.

The inside of the eyeball is made up of a collagen jelly called vitreous. Vitreous maintains the round shape of your eyeball and keeps the retina in place.

As we age, the water and collagen in vitreous can separate, and the floaters we see are small chunks of collagen, floating around in small pockets of liquified vitreous.

Floaters are so common that 24% will have experienced them by age 59, and 87% will experience them after age 80 [1].

Is there a Cure for Eye Floaters?

No. Other than highly invasive surgical intervention, there is no “cure” for eye floaters. Generally, they are annoying but pose no medical risk.

It is important to note that floaters should not be painful or cause light sensitivity. If you experience these symptoms, or a sudden onset of multiple floaters, you should seek medical attention. Floaters can also appear as a symptom of head/eye trauma.

Supplements for Eye Floaters & Eye Health

While there is no “cure” for floaters, it doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive about the health of your eyes. We have suggestions that are both floater-specific and more general for the longevity of your eyes and vision as you age!

Bromelain

This is the info you probably came to this article for. Bromelain is a powerful protease isolated from the core of pineapples. It is an anti-inflammatory and an effective digestive enzyme that supports nutrient availability in the gastrointestinal system. 

Just as it helps break up proteins from your food, bromelain may also help to break up proteins (floaters) in your eyes!

New research studies have shown success in the proteolytic breakdown of floaters (scientifically referred to as “vitreous opacities”) with pineapple protease supplementation [1-3].

Even daily consumption of actual pineapple fruit has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the disappearance of floaters, in a dose-dependent manner [1]. One study showed that about 70% of those who ate pineapple every day for three months saw significant improvement in floaters. It is the bromelain in the pineapple, specifically, that is credited for the mechanism behind this effect [1-3].

If eating 300 g of pineapple every day sounds reasonable to you, by all means! If you’d prefer to skip the acidity or sugar load, however, bromelain is also available as a supplement.  

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid (HA) occurs naturally in many parts of the body (connective, epithelial, and neural tissues), and one of those places is in the vitreous of the eye [4]. While you may have heard of HA supplementation for skin hydration or joint comfort, it can also benefit the moisture and comfort of your eyes. 

HA benefits skin and cartilage as a natural anti-inflammatory, and by helping to draw and hold water molecules in a collagen matrix. It may provide these same benefits to the eye [4]. 

HA is often used in eye surgeries to replace natural fluids in the vitreous. Topical HA drops have been used for some time for proper tear maintenance in dry eyes [4]. New research shows the combination of oral HA supplementation and HA eye drops provides added benefit to the eyes, especially for those with dry eye disease [4]. 

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

While not floater-specific this time, lutein and zeaxanthin are arguably the best supplement choice to protect your vision as you age. 

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found in the macula of the eye. These two antioxidants work together to make a yellow-colored pigment within the retina. The yellow pigment absorbs blue light, protecting the underlying photoreceptor cell layer from damage caused by certain sources of blue light (namely, the sun and device screens) [5]. 

The more macular pigment one expresses in the retina, the lower the incidence of age-related macular degeneration [5]. Because you can increase the abundance of macular pigment by increasing consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin, it is highly likely that supplementation with these nutrients will prolong the ocular health of those at risk of developing age-related macular degeneration [5].

Vitamin D

You may be having deja vu because we ALWAYS talk about vitamin D. Vitamin D is SO IMPORTANT and more than half of the global population is deficient [6]. The rates of deficiency are likely closer to 80% in melanated communities in the US [7].

Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients that people in affluent/developed nations are more likely to be deficient in. This is because working and living mostly inside, and protecting our skin from sun damage prevents adequate vitamin D production. Unfortunately, vitamin D is found in very few natural foods. Supplementation is the easiest way for most to get the vitamin D levels they need for optimal health.

In terms of eye health, specifically, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis, dry eye syndrome (improper tear function), and glaucoma [8-13]. Vitamin D is incredibly important to protect the longevity of your ocular health and vision.

References

  1. Horng, ChiTing, et al. “Pharmacologic vitreolysis of vitreous floaters by 3-month pineapple supplement in Taiwan—A pilot study.” J. Am. Sci 15.4 (2019): 17-30.
  2. Takeuchi, Masaru, Po-Chuen Shieh, and Chi-Ting Horng. “Treatment of symptomatic vitreous opacities with pharmacologic Vitreolysis using a Mixture of Bromelain, Papain and Ficin Supplement.” Applied Sciences 10.17 (2020): 5901.
  3. Fang, Mei, and Chi-Ting Horng. “Pharmacologic vitreolysis of floaters by 2-month pineapple juice supplement-an animal study.” Life Science Journal 17.12 (2020).
  4. Kim, Yeseul, et al. “Oral hyaluronic acid supplementation for the treatment of dry eye disease: a pilot study.” Journal of ophthalmology 2019 (2019).
  5. Krinsky, Norman I., John T. Landrum, and Richard A. Bone. “Biologic mechanisms of the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye.” Annual review of nutrition 23.1 (2003): 171-201.
  6. Nair, Rathish, and Arun Maseeh. “Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin.” Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics 3.2 (2012): 118.
  7. Runestad, Todd. “Congress lauds vitamin D for COVID-19”. Natural Products Insider. Feb 25, 2021. 
  8. Ferreira, André, et al. “Serum vitamin D and age-related macular degeneration: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Survey of Ophthalmology 66.2 (2021): 183-197.
  9. Askari, Gholamreza, et al. “Association between vitamin D and dry eye disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.” Contact Lens and Anterior Eye (2020).
  10. Carbone, Laura D., et al. “Association of vitamin D with incident glaucoma: findings from the Women’s Health Initiative.” Journal of Investigative Medicine 69.4 (2021): 843-850.
  11. Pillar, Shani, and Radgonde Amer. “The association between vitamin D and uveitis: A comprehensive review.” Survey of Ophthalmology (2021).
  12. Abdellah, Marwa Mahmoud, et al. “Association of serum 25-hydroxyl vitamin D deficiency and age-related cataract: a case-control study.” Journal of ophthalmology 2019 (2019).
  13. Tecilazich, Francesco, Anna Maria Formenti, and Andrea Giustina. “Role of vitamin D in diabetic retinopathy: pathophysiological and clinical aspects.” Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (2020): 1-13.