What are Floaters?/ Advent: A Preparation for Christmas

November 29, 2013

Patients ask me all the time if the floaters they see are normal or part of a more serious disease.  They also ask why they see them now, when they were not noticed before. These are all good questions I am going to address here.  First, we need a general understanding of eye anatomy to better know what is occurring. 

Floaters manifest themselves in the vitreous humor, a gel like substance located in the area of the eye called the posterior chamber, an area between the lens and the retina.   The vitreous occupies four fifths of the eye globe- with an average volume of 4cc and a weight of 4 g in an adult eye.1  The vitreous is composed of 99% water and about .1% consisting of soluble and insoluble proteins and hyaluronic acid.2   With age, the collagen protein  separates from the water and clumps together forming floaters that cast shadows onto the retina.  These types of floaters are harmless, but lately I have seen more serious causes for floaters- even one which required emergency surgery.   The eye specialist will be able to differentiate from normal aging changes from those that may require more observation or surgery.

Generally, those that require an eye specialist to examine the patient more closely are when the patient notices either a significant increase in floaters, floaters accompanied with flashes and/or loss of part of the vision.  These symptoms could be indicative of a retinal tear, retinal detachment, inflammation from an infection or auto-immune disease, or a tumor in the eye.   These are serious sight, or life threatening conditions such as in the case of a tumor. I will discuss next time what is done to repair the retina to preserve vision.

1. Retina. 2nd ed. Vol. 1, Editor in Chief Stephen Ryan.  pg 17                                        2. Retina. 2nd ed. Vol. 1, Editor in Chief Stephen Ryan. pg. 1871



Advent: A Preparation for Christmas

Advent in Latin means “coming” or “arrival”, and so we are preparing for the arrival of Christ in the world, but more importantly His arrival into our own lives.  The next four weeks of Advent should be a time that we grow closer to Jesus.  If we already have a personal relationship with Him, great!   Then we can make it even deeper.  If our relationship is lacking, then this is the time to improve on it.   

 We all should make an assessment of our lives, to see what is keeping us from having that deeper relationship with Him.  What chains in our lives are holding us back and weighing us down from getting closer to Jesus?   If we yoke our self (in other words, join our lives) with Christ, the chains of temptations and sins will fall away.  It is up to us then, with our free will, to say “Thy will be done”.   We need to invite Jesus into our lives every day.  If we invite Him, He will do the hard work to sanctify us and to make us more in conformity with the Father.   Through prayer and with the insight of the Holy Spirit, we will truly understand the fruit of the mystery of Christmas…poverty.

The poverty I am speaking of is not a lack of monetary wealth, but that Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself to share in our humanity!  The poverty I mean is coming to the realization that I belong to Him and that nothing in my life is truly mine, because everything is given to me by Him.1 If we join our lives with Jesus we will find joy and peace.  We will discover freedom from earthly things because we will find that only through God, will our desires be fulfilled.2  Jesus showed us through His life that even He was dependent on the Father.  We need to humble ourselves and totally trust in the Father that He will provide for us and give us the grace, when needed, to overcome whatever obstacles we face.   If we do this, Jesus the Emmanuel will be born in our own lives this Christmas season!

1. Magnificat November 2013 vol. 15, No. 9 pg. 79                                                        2. Magnificat November 2013 vol. 15, No. 9 pg. 80