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I find myself living in a snow globe

Dr. Steven Heidinger writes about Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)
Wellness Column by Dr. Steven Heidinger

The floaters in my eyes are causing me heartburn.

Just over a year ago I started getting these very bright flashes in one of my eyes whenever I shifted my eyes in any direction. After about two weeks of this I made an appointment with my optometrist, who then made an appointment to see an ophthalmologist. Long story short, I was diagnosed with Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD).

While using the word “detachment” and “eye” in the same sentence may be unsettling and, in many cases, emergent, I was assured that this is something that is not usually dangerous, would not cause permanent blindness, and was a relatively common occurrence at my age (I really hate anything that is “normal for my age”).

While the detachment involved my retina to some extent, it was not the retina that was detaching. That of course would be an emergency situation with surgery done lickety-split. This was concerning the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye. At the back of the eye, this vitreous attaches to the retina, or at least it is supposed to.  Some studies report that PVD can affect nearly one in four persons in their 50s. Lucky me. For many, these PVD’s occur without any symptoms and for others the symptoms are mild.  

Flashes and floaters, floaters and flashes.

When my flashes subsided after a few weeks, the floaters showed up. And boy did they ever. Floaters are a common occurrence after a PVD, and for most (85 per cent), the floaters are mild and subside in the first three months, or the brain just starts to ignore them. For me, however — lucky me — I feel like I am living in a snow globe. What has made things even worse is that my other eye decided to get in on this PVD party as well. Double snow globes. Merry Christmas.

So, what does all this have to do with heartburn?

I began researching (aka as Googling) treatment for PVD. Laser treatment, while it exists in a few private clinics across North America, is not a proven fix for floaters. It may zap the floaters into smaller floaters, but I didn’t want to let someone play an expensive game of Asteroids in my eyes.

The floaters can be sucked out with the entire vitreous, but this comes with an even higher risk that may outweigh the benefit.

So now I am looking at the pineapple for salvation. I came across a study that was published this year in the Journal of American Science that found that subjects who ingested pineapples daily for three months reported fewer floaters related to posterior vitreous detachment. It is thought that the enzymes in pineapples (specifically Bromelain) many react positively with the fibrous-structured floaters.

Bromelain is available in capsule form, extracted from pineapples, in most health food stores. While taken daily with meals, this enzyme has led to some moderate burning in my belly, but I am willing to give it a try.

And so, my little case study begins.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.