The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

August 14, 2013

'Live with it' may be best advice for megafloaters

Dear Dr. Roach: I am a 62-year-old male. I have what I would call “megafloaters” in both eyes. I see spots, squiggly lines and other assorted debris in my field of vision. After two thorough examinations by two different doctors, I was told to live with the condition, as the treatment is complex. I understand that it is caused by the breakdown of the vitreous fluid. I am to notify the doctor if I start seeing “flashing lights,” as that would indicate a detached retina. I have worn glasses since childhood and have astigmatism, and my vision has not changed much in the past two years. The floaters are only an annoyance, yet the condition seems to be worsening quickly. The only medication I take is tamsulosin. I would appreciate your input. — R.S.

Answer: I completely agree with your doctors’ assessments. I would add only that it is the breakdown of cells into the vitreous, not a breakdown of the fluid itself. I have written a few times about floaters and have done a fair bit of research on them, and have spoken to an ophthalmologist also. Unless it is adversely affecting your vision, I believe the cure is worse than the disease.

Dear Dr. Roach: I am a 74-year-old female in good health. What particular exams should I have yearly? I take no meds, am arthritic and a nonsmoker, and I do not drink. I am a gym client — I do free weights and 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week. —D.F.L.

Answer: You are fortunate to be in such excellent health, and I am sure your exercise and lack of smoking have a lot to do with it. The screening tests recommended for a 74-year-old include a mammogram every year or two; a bone mineral density test if you haven’t had one, with a follow-up based on the results, a blood pressure screen every visit; and a colonoscopy every 10 years (more frequently if you have had abnormal results).

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