Eye Floaters

Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are molecules formed through a process called glycation, where sugars react with proteins or lipids without the control of enzymes. 

A chemical chaperone is a molecule that helps stabilize the structure of proteins, ensuring they fold correctly and maintain their proper function.

Lysine is a chemical chaperone and aids in preventing harmful modifications to proteins (like glycation) and helps proteins maintain their correct shape and functionality.

Condensed tannins, also known as proanthocyanidins, are a type of polyphenolic compound found in various plants, particularly in fruits, seeds, bark, and leaves. These compounds are formed through the polymerization of flavan-3-ols, such as catechin and epicatechin, and they contribute to the astringent taste and color of certain foods and beverages. In relation to eye health, condensed tannins possess antioxidant properties that help protect ocular tissues from oxidative stress and inflammation. Additionally, they may play a role in maintaining the structural integrity of the vitreous humor by preventing the cross-linking of proteins and the formation of opacities or floaters in the eye. Therefore, incorporating condensed tannins into the diet or through supplementation may support ocular health and potentially alleviate symptoms associated with eye floaters.

Entoptic images are visual phenomena that originate within the eye itself rather than from external image generating objects. In the context of eye floaters, these images appear as shadows or shapes seen in the field of vision due to clumps or strands of collagen fibers in the vitreous body. When light passes the eye, these clumps cast shadows on the retina, leading to the perception of entoptic images which can appear as small dots, threads, or cobweb-like shapes that drift around as the eye moves.

Free Radicals are atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron, making them highly reactive and capable of damaging cells and tissues. Free radicals can be a type of ROS but can also include other species such as nitric oxide (NO).

Free radicals can cause significant oxidative damage to the proteins (e.g. collagen fibers) in the eye. Among others their activity can lead to the clumping of collagen fibers, which is a primary cause of eye floaters.

L-Lysine refers to the specific enantiomer or form of lysine. Enantiomers are molecules that are mirror images of each other but cannot be superimposed onto each other. There is always a “L”- and a “D”- enantiomer. “L” indicates the “levorotatory” form, which means that it rotates plane-polarized light to the left, while “D”, short for dextrorotatory, rotates plane-polarized light to the right. This “L”-form of lysine is the naturally occurring form found in proteins and is typically what is referred to when discussing lysine in biological contexts.

Lysine is a general term referring to the amino acid lysine, which is one of the essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis in the body. It is often represented as “Lys” in biochemical notation. The difference between L-Lysine and Lysine lies in their chemical structure and their specific forms.

Metallothionein is a metal-binding protein that plays a crucial role in metal ion homeostasis and detoxification. It protects tissues from oxidative stress and damage by binding to harmful metal ions and scavenging free radicals.

Metallothionein helps protect the vitreous and surrounding ocular tissues from oxidative damage and glycoxidation, processes that can contribute to the degradation of collagen fibers and the formation of floaters. By mitigating these damaging effects, metallothionein helps maintain the structural integrity of the vitreous.

Eye floaters, also known as “Mouches Volantes,” are caused by clumps of collagen in the vitreous humor, typically occurring with age. As part of the aging process, there is degradation of hyaluronic acid (HA). HA normally binds water in the vitreous and maintains space between collagen fibers, crucial for its gel-like consistency. Degradation of HA leads to the liquification of the vitreous and increases collagen aggregation, resulting in larger floaters that move and cast shadows on the retina.

Myopia is a common vision condition, also known as nearsightedness, where distant objects appear blurry while close objects can be seen clearly. 

In myopia the eyeball is elongated, which stretches the vitreous humor. This elongation alters the structure and consistency of the vitreous gel, making it more prone to early degeneration. The increased stress and strain on the vitreous humor due to the elongated shape of the myopic eye cause the collagen fibers within the vitreous to break down more rapidly. This accelerated breakdown leads to the formation of floaters as the vitreous becomes less uniform and more prone to clumping of these fibers. Additionally, the physical changes in the eye associated with myopia can disrupt the normal metabolic processes within the vitreous, further accelerating its aging and contributing to the earlier onset of floaters.

Oxidative stress refers to the imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to neutralize them with antioxidants. Oxidized proteins are more susceptible to glycation. This stress is intensified by blue light, especially sunlight. Since the eye is exposed to direct sunlight, it is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress.

Polyphenolic compounds are a diverse group of naturally occurring plant compounds that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Found abundantly in fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, and red wine, these compounds have been associated with various health benefits, including cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and eye health. In relation to eye floaters, polyphenolic compounds may help protect ocular tissues from oxidative damage and inflammation, thereby supporting overall ocular health and potentially reducing the risk of developing floaters.

Protein glycation occurs when sugar molecules react with proteins in the absence of enzymes. In the vitreous, proteins such as collagen can undergo glycation when exposed to excess glucose over time. 

The retina is a light-sensitive thin film within the interior of the eye. It contains light-sensitive photoreceptor cells (rods and cones). These specialized cells are the first stage of the perception of shapes, colours and patterns, and channel this information to a network of nerve fibers. These visual nerve fibers are collected in a bundle at the back of the retina and form the optic nerve. This optic nerve transmits the visual information from the retina to the visual cortex of the brain, where further processing takes place.

For some people, age-related detachment of the vitreous from the retina can result in a tearing or perforation of the retina. Tiny droplets of blood can occur as a result and appear as black or translucent dots. They can occur in large numbers and move quickly with the resemblance of a falling curtain of soot. Patients sometimes describe them as “black fluff”, “black sooty rain” or “a swarm of black flies”.

Short-sighted people, and those who had a cataract operation, have an increased risk of retinal damage.

Untreated retinal tears can progress to retinal detachment. This results from fluid seeping between the layers and detaching the retina, resulting in irreversible vision loss. Treatment at the earliest possible stage is essential to avoid permanent loss of vision.

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are highly reactive molecules containing oxygen. They are byproducts of normal cellular metabolism but can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA when their levels become too high. Examples include hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) and superoxide anion (O₂·⁻).

ROS can accumulate in the vitreous of the eye and create oxidative stress, potentially leading to damage of the vitreous collagen and other components.

Superoxide radicals are a type of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formed when oxygen molecules gain an extra electron, resulting in a highly reactive and unstable molecule. These radicals can cause significant oxidative damage to cells and tissues if not properly managed.

In the context of eye floaters, superoxide radicals can contribute to oxidative stress in the vitreous, leading to the degradation and clumping of collagen fibers. This oxidative damage can promote the formation of floaters. Enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD3), which zinc is a co-factor of, play a critical role in neutralizing these radicals and protecting the eye from oxidative damage.

Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme that catalyzes the dismutation of superoxide radicals into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. It is one of the primary enzymes involved in the antioxidant defense system of cells, particularly in neutralizing superoxide radicals, a type of reactive oxygen species (ROS). There are several isoforms of SOD, including SOD1, SOD2, and SOD3, each localized to different cellular compartments.

SOD3, specifically, plays a crucial role in neutralizing superoxide radicals within the vitreous humor. By converting superoxide radicals into less reactive molecules, SOD3 helps reduce oxidative stress and prevent damage to the collagen fibers and other components of the vitreous.

The vitreous is a very viscous liquid (jelly-like mass) surrounded by a very thin membrane that gives the eyeball its shape and stability. The vitreous takes almost two-thirds of the eye and is connected to the lens and the retina. It consists of 98% water. Other important ingredients are a network of collagen fibers and hyaluronic acid.

As people age, the vitreous gel in the eye liquefies and detaches from the retina. This can also be caused by myopia, inflammation, or injury. Vitreous detachment itself is usually not dangerous. 

However, a sudden increase in the number of black dots may indicate severe damage to the internal eye structure, especially when accompanied by the appearance of flashing lights. Affected individuals sometimes describe this condition as “smuts,” “falling clouds of soot,” or “a swarm of black flies.” In such cases, seeking immediate consultation with an eye care professional is crucial. If access to an eye care professional is unavailable, visiting the nearest hospital emergency room is advised, as there is a risk of a torn or detached retina.

Vitreous opacities refer to the presence of small particles or structures within the vitreous humor of the eye that can cast shadows on the retina, resulting in visual disturbances. These particles often consist of clumped collagen fibers, cellular debris, or other substances suspended within the gel-like vitreous. These clumped collagen fibers can create shadows on the retina, which are perceived as floaters. While the subjective suffering from floaters can only be measured with questionnaires, vitreous opacity areas can be objectively measured by techniques such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and ultrasonography.

VitroCap®N is a micronutrient supplement specifically designed to reduce and dissolve floaters within the vitreous. Backed by five clinical trials confirming its efficacy and safety, VitroCap®N contains a blend of micronutrients, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds scientifically proven to support ocular health. VitroCap®N is the enhanced successor to the original VitroCap® formulation. The recommended dosage is one capsule daily with food for an initial period of at least 3 to 6 months, depending on individual response. Continued use beyond this period should be based on individual needs.

VitroCap® was the first micronutrient supplement specifically designed to reduce and dissolve floaters within the vitreous. The formulation has been improved and is now available as VitroCap®N.