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Eye floaters and severe anxiety

(126 Posts)
Jaydeelee Sat 01-Jun-13 14:22:27

Back in August last year I developed several eye floaters. They made me quite panicky, but I was seen by a couple of opticians who said they're not dangerous, just irritating (and permanent). Since then I've become very anxious about them, and have developed many more - there are dozens in each eye, and unless I'm wearing dark glasses they are really disturbing my vision. I've had them checked out again by a consultant ophthalmologist and was told the same thing. I'm so frightened that long term I won't be able to actually see my children (4 and 2) grow up and it's affecting my work life terribly too - I have been having panic attacks that mean I spend hours cowering in the loos or driving home, as they're even more noticeable (if that's possible) when I use a computer.

The floaters are awful and I am not enjoying life now. I'm fearful for my children's future and I worry about everything, all because of these dreadful permanent fixtures to my vision - what if they get worse?! I'm having high intensity CBT and have been put on a low mood and stress course, but these are not working. Anything I find on the internet is negative and I'm at my wits' end. My poor husband, children and parents are also affected by my floaters, as they're all I can focus on.

Does anyone else have really bad eye floaters, and if so, have you managed to learn to cope with them? I'm desperate to feel normal again and enjoy my beautiful family, but at the moment I can't see how this is possible. I'd love to hear some positive stories, so if you have any, please, please share - I'm desperate to feel a little hope that life can be enjoyable again.

Thank you so much. x

OP’s posts: |
bruffin Sat 01-Jun-13 14:35:11

I have high ocular pressure so get my eyes checked in hospital every 6 months. I also have a lot of floaters in both eyes and my opmathologist is not worried about them at all.
Yes they are really annoying but they really only bothrr me in bright light, i wear sunglasses which help
I have a little money spider and quite a few train tracks.

Thymeout Sat 01-Jun-13 14:55:42

I have quite a few floaters but am only really aware of them when looking at a white wall. Most of the time my brain doesn't 'see' them because it knows they are not important. It has learnt to ignore them. So most of the time, it's as if they do not exist.

Your brain is trying to do this, too. But you keep distracting it and saying 'Look at the floaters!' So you're trying to fight your brain's natural process of adjustment. No wonder you're in an anxious state.

I don't know what to suggest but suspect the answer lies with your CBT therapy. They will go, or appear to, if you allow your brain to do what it is trying to do - pretend they are not there. And it doesn't matter if more appear, because your brain will disregard them, too. If you let it.

Best wishes, OP. Do hope things get better as your anxiety about them decreases.

Bimbledorf Sat 01-Jun-13 14:56:29

The thing is the anxiety is very likely making them worse! It is a common symptom of anxiety apparently and I have loads too and am currently just coming through a period of really bad post natal anxiety. They are still there but I don't notice them unless something reminds me of them. I've actually had them for 9 years but noticed them more during this period of anxiety I have been going through.

It is the same for my tinnitus. That is louder when it was all I focused on, when it first developed I thought I would never handle life again within a couple of weeks max I was able to ignore it and now my subconscious brain does that so I'm not even actively having to think "ignore" if you know what I mean. It is totally the same for my floaters, they got in the way when I focused on them and yes they are annoying particularly when it is sunny but I can and you can still see fine!

It isn't actually your floaters themselves which is causing the horrendous negative affect on your life - it is your reaction to them. A ridiculously high percentage of people in this world have floaters that are totally benign and as they don't react to them, they don't affect their lives AT ALL.

Don't Google unless you Google Eye Floaters + Anxiety.... there are sooooooo many people who suffer from them along with anxiety in general, or about eye floaters and anxiety of them - focus on that now you know from your ophthalmologist they aren't a symptom of something sinister and just accept them, smile at the fact that you can see past them. Keep reminding yourself of every time you forgot about them and were seeing fine. Life is 100% definitely completely and utterly possible to enjoy with floaters, honestly!!! x

ScienceRocks Sat 01-Jun-13 15:05:14

I can't add much to what has already been said, because other posters are correct in saying that it's your reaction to the floaters, rather than the floaters themselves, that is causing the anxiety, and hopefully the cbt will equip you with the skills and behaviour you need to cope with them.

However, I have many many floaters because I am extremely shortsighted. I can't not notice them because there are so many, but bright light certainly makes them more apparent and I am a habitual sunglasses wearer as a result (also the myopia makes me photophobic). I tend to look through them to what is beyond, it i also find them endlessly fascinating and will sometimes - futilely - try to watch them "fall". I have had my floaters as long as i can remember, in fact when I first heard that not everybody had them I was surprised! They haven't got worse over the years, but they have changed. They haven't affected my actual eyesight either.

Try and learn to deal with them, OP. don't focus on them, look beyond them to what is important - your family and friends. And occasionally, in time, enjoy the show that plays in front of your eyes that nobody else can see smile

Bumply Sat 01-Jun-13 15:09:55

I've always had floaters. Seems to be a family thing.

If you can ignore them your brain does kind of tune them out.

I know it can be hard at times, like a racing heart is just the thing to trigger anxiety and an even racier heart. The more you notice the floaty little bastards the more they get in your way.

I think my floaters have been worse the past couple of years, but they are just a distraction. They don't affect my ability to work, drive and enjoy my kids.

The one thing to look out for is flashing lights accompanying them, as that could indicate an issue with your retina that would need addressing immediately.

Bumply Sat 01-Jun-13 15:12:19

And yes to passing time by watching them fall, or flicking your eyes to get them to dance around.

Jaydeelee Sat 01-Jun-13 15:24:55

Thank you for your replies. I too am very short-sighted (-5 and -6.5). I know I'm more prone to eye floaters than more normal-sighted people, but I guess I worry even more because the general population don't tend to get this until they're in their 60s, whilst I'm 35! I think I may be becoming photophobic too - just being out in the sun without sunglasses on makes me see imprints (the sort people get from staring at a bright lightbulb for too long), and my eyes strain/go blurry when looking at a computer screen. My eyes have been tested so extensively (three eye dilations between Sept 12 and March 13), but I'm still obsessed with them. On Tuesday at work I convinced myself I have macular degeneration (my nana has this) - I almost went straight to the opticians, but was thankfully too embarrassed! Instead I spent a lot of time crying in the loos, contemplating the meaning of life - I do need to get a grip, I'm turning into a complete moron. I too suffered badly with post-natal anxiety after the birth of DD1 four years ago, and sadly my eye issues have taken me straight back to that mind-state.

So pleased to hear that you've all learned to cope with yours, it's really encouraging to hear, thank you. x

OP’s posts: |
elfycat Sat 01-Jun-13 15:42:01

I've had floaters for at least 20 years. One is called 'mozzie' because it looks a bit like a mosquito an another is 'Bob' which is a fuzzy spot. I also like to play with them, staring at the ceiling and moving my eyes. I find it hypnotically relaxing.

I'm short sighted too (-5.5 both eyes) and yes we are prone.

They got a lot worse after labour (all that pushing I expect) and I was told if I get a shadow passing over my sight to see someone ASAP as that could be a detached retina, a very rare complication but the shape of our short-sighted eyeball makes us a hint more prone than the rest of the population. But the extra floaters went away after a week or so.

Do you have other anxieties that are pressuring you at the moment? You mention post-natal anxiety in the past tense so it sounds like you have overcome that well. Did you speak with your GP about that anxiety? It might be worth chatting to your GP about general anxieties and stressors.

elfycat Sat 01-Jun-13 15:43:20

Sorry I see that you are having therapy, maybe you need to review it with your GP if it's not of help at the moment.

bruffin Sat 01-Jun-13 16:22:11

Im 50 and had mine for at least 10 years. I am short sighted but not so bad i need glasses all the time.
As i mentioned above one of mine reminds me of a money spider and like others have said i have got quite fond of it.

mrsden Sat 01-Jun-13 16:29:39

I'm 31 and I have loads of them and have done since my mid twenties. You do stop noticing them after a while, and they only really bother me on a sunny day or when looking at white walls or the sky. They're totally harmless but can be annoying and I know I was anxious about them when they first appeared.

Startail Sat 01-Jun-13 16:39:52

Horrid things, I try very very hard to ignore them, but they make me feel old.

ChewingOnLifesGristle Sat 01-Jun-13 16:51:53

Hmm interesting. I have them too and have had for years. They're most noticable looking at blank things but usually I can edit them out. They have def got worse as I've got older. Like bits of cobweb floating around and one I've had for years that looks like a little snake (I suppose I do look for it in an abstract sort of way - funny I thought it was just me that did thatgrin)

Jaydeelee Poor you. This awful worrying must be terribly debilitating for yousad Do you feel a little more reassured to find many of us have them to some degree?

Frizzybear Sat 01-Jun-13 17:07:21

I developed floaters in march, found them very irritating, then In April had quite a big meltdown, had very difficult few years and ended up anxious about absolutely everything, was put on AD tabs and the floaters have almost disappeared, got one little blighter left, in my left eye who just won't go, your body can do the strangest things to you

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sat 01-Jun-13 17:13:15

OP I've had floaters for years - I'm 36.

They have got worse the last couple of years, and this year I've had dreadful health anxiety, although I think perhaps not as badly as you! But I had become fixated on my floaters and I was worried about my vision - focussing on them all the time definitely made them worse. I went and got my eyes checked out and the optician completely reassured me.

I've also been prescribed Sertraline by my GP for the general anxiety which I've been taking for just over 4 weeks now and it has made SUCH a difference. I barely notice my floaters any longer because my brain is tuning them out now that I'm not thinking about them all day long.

ppeatfruit Sat 01-Jun-13 17:25:34

I wonder if they're a symptom of a food intolerance. Have you looked at your lifestyle (smoking, drinking eating too much junk food etc.)?

My health improved when I went on The Blood Type way of eating by Dr. Peter D'Adamo;it's amazing you could give it a look; it might be something simple like giving up chicken to improve your anxiety and floaters.

bruffin Sat 01-Jun-13 19:06:06

Floaters have nothing to do with diet and books like that cater to people's anxiety and have are not based on any scientific basis.

LongGoneBeforeDaylight Sat 01-Jun-13 20:15:37

This happened to me, is classic health anxiety. You got some floaters, and then as you became worried you spotted more and more. As time goes by you'll realise they're benign and once you stop obsessing and looking at them your brain will learn to ignore them as they drift by! I got about 100 in one summer and no more since and, despite worrying about them for 6 months, nothing happened smile

LongGoneBeforeDaylight Sat 01-Jun-13 20:19:04

I should add, health anxiety always feels so real. I've had countless times where I have "known" I had something wrong and have always been incorrect!! It's quite terrifying though but don't mistake the fear as anxiety for proof there is something wrong.

Footle Sat 01-Jun-13 20:28:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

carrielou2007 Sat 01-Jun-13 22:03:47

I got rid of my floaters from one eye after surgery for detatched retina confused. I'm very short sighted (-13.5/-14.5) had floaters for as long as I can remember but your brain does tune then out to an extent.

You're getting them checked however so doing everything you can. The worrying about not seeing your children growing up I get, so scared about my failing sight and mind happened literally overnight, was at work one day and in my day off the 'curtains' came down and I was in hospital having my first op the very next day. Have had a few months off waiting for dc3 to arrive grin but next op v soon now he 's here.

I'm not sure that floaters are a sign of anything and my detachment for my age was 1in 10,000 so just keep repeating statistics when the panic starts to wash over you x

imperfectparent Sat 01-Jun-13 22:15:30

Everyone seems to be saying not to worry about them but plainly they are causing you great distress and no amount of reassurance has helped you. Have you thought of having hypnotherapy.

SconeInSixtySeconds Sat 01-Jun-13 22:22:27

I have had floaters since I was a teenager. Honestly I scarcely even notice them anymore. (Am now 39)

FoodieToo Sat 01-Jun-13 23:10:33

I got them mid twenties.
Also very anxious,hypochondriac !

I wear sunglasses a lot as less visible when wearing them.
Relax about them and they will disappear . As in you won't notice them. I have LOADS of floaters. But don't even see them any more.

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