Have you ever experienced floaters in your vision? Did someone tell you that eating pineapples can get rid of them? I am here to bring you the latest information on eye health and medicine.
If you have noticed some tiny grey or black strings that are floating around in your vision, you are not alone. Those small floating objects you are seeing in your vision are commonly called floaters or posterior vitreous detachment as the scientific term.
In fact, floaters are so common, that I see multiple patients every day in my clinic who come in because they have developed symptomatic floaters.
In today’s article, we will discuss the nature of floaters, whether eating pineapples is really an effective treatment for floaters, what the confirmed effective treatment options for floaters are, and when you should be concerned about floaters.
What are Floaters?
Floaters are basically clumps of collagen fibers formed in the jell-O-like material called vitreous gel, which fills the cavity in our eyes. the vitreous gel is composed of 99% water, and 0.5% collagen fibers and the remaining 0.5% is mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid.
The vitreous gel is usually clear and transparent. However, due to aging and mechanical factors such as trauma to the eyes, vitreous gel can undergo a process called syneresis, which is the contraction of the gel accompanied by the separation of liquids from the gel.
As the volume of the vitreous gel shrinks, the collagen fibers embedded in the vitreous gel break and form free-floating clumps of collagen, known as floaters.
The collagen fiber clumps move with the eyes, and when they are near the center of your vision, you can see them as grey structures such as bubbles, strings, cobwebs, or dark spots.
Floaters are very common among people over the age of 50 and become more common as we age. It is reported that the prevalence of floaters is over 87% among people over 80.
However, it doesn’t mean floaters do not affect people younger than 50, I frequently see patients in their 20s, 30s, and 40s with symptomatic floaters. In fact, over 30% of the general population has floaters.
Can eating Pineapple Cure Floaters?
Can you really get rid of floaters by eating pineapple? You may have seen some pineapple eating challenge videos on the internet, or heard about people who reported seeing less floaters after eating pineapple for a few months. How did this all come about?
It all started with a study conducted in Taiwan and published in 2019 in a journal called the Journal of American science, not to be confused with the more well-known American journal of science.
In this article, they reported that 388 participants were divided into two experimental groups:
- 190 participants ate two pieces of pineapple after lunch every day for three months, and the study reported a 70% reduction of floaters in this group.
- 198 participants were divided into three groups and ate different amounts of pineapple. One, two, or three slices of pineapple after lunch for three months, and the study reported a dose-dependent reduction of floaters ranging between 55% and 70% in this experiment.
Pineapple Cure for Floaters
So did these researchers discover a miracle cure for floaters in 2019? When I read the title of this article, just like you, I was really hoping that this pineapple treatment for floaters could be true.
But after reading this study, I have many questions. This study was published in 2019. but since then, there have been no studies that were able to replicate those results reported in any major or minor scientific journals.
Usually, when there is a new ground-breaking scientific finding that could potentially affect a third of the global population, that is something a lot of researchers would be interested in studying, and yet there have been no studies by any other groups confirming these findings.
Let’s dive a little deeper into this study. The study’s authors hypothesized that bromelain, which is a group of enzymes found in pineapple, breaks down the collagen fibers in the floaters and dissolve them.
One important thing to note is that many parts of our eyes are made out of collagen fibers, besides the ones in the vitreous gel that form floaters. Collagen fibers also form parts of the cornea the clear windshield of the eye, the sclera, the white wall of the eye, and the lens capsule, the thin membrane that wraps around the lens inside of the eye.
All of those structures and more are made out of collagen. if bromelain from eating pineapple can dissolve the collagen fibers in the floaters. Why would it not affect the collagen fibers in the rest of the eye?
By this logic, if bromelain can break down collagen fibers that form floaters it would break down collagen fibers that support the normal structure of the eye, and the whole eyeball would melt.
Another question that I had is that the study’s authors reported a cure rate of up to 70% of floaters in a matter of three months by eating a few slices of pineapple every day.
You might expect therefore people who eat a lot of pineapples would have a lot fewer floaters. However, in countries with high consumption rates of pineapple such as Brazil and the Philippines to the best of my knowledge. Do not have a dramatically lower prevalence of floaters.
So if pineapple really cures most floaters, I wonder why we are not seeing significantly less floaters in those regions. I have always been interested in natural remedies that are effective in treating common eye diseases, and I actually also have a master’s degree in nutrition. So I really wanted this study to be true.
Unfortunately, after reading this study, I am sorry to report that most likely, more rigorous future data will likely not show eating pineapple can cure floaters. Also please keep in mind, that the natural progression of floaters is that they often get better spontaneously without any intervention.
Because the clump of collagen fibers that form the floaters tend to settle away from the center of vision over time. This is one reason why regardless of pineapple, many people notice the resolution of floaters over a period of a few months.
That said, pineapple is a delicious fruit, so if you have floaters and want to try eating some pineapple every day and see if that helps your floaters, that’s probably fine for most people. But do keep in mind that pineapple is high in sugar content, and is very acidic.
So for people with diabetes or other medical problems, I would recommend that you speak with your doctor before eating large amounts of pineapple.
Effective Treatment Options for Floaters
Now we have talked about whether pineapple can really cure floaters. Let’s talk about the confirmed effective treatment options for floaters. As I mentioned before, naturally, many floaters tend to get better on their own without any intervention.
For the majority of people who develop floaters, the symptoms become less bothersome after a few months. For floaters that are persistent over months, and especially if the location of the floater is central, and obstructing the vision, limiting what you can see and do, your eye surgeon can perform a laser procedure called YAG laser vitreolysis in the office to treat floaters that are very well formed and with certain anatomical characteristics.
In rare cases, a surgical procedure called pars plana vitrectomy can be performed in the operating room to remove the whole vitreous gel and replace it with a clear fluid to remove all of the floaters. Both the YAG laser procedure and the vitrectomy surgical procedure have risks, so please discuss them with your eye surgeon.
If you are interested in having those procedures to improve any persistent and severe floaters.
When to Worry about Floaters?
So when should you be worried if you are seeing floaters? Floaters are one of the most common eye diseases that can affect your vision. For the vast majority of cases, eye doctors recommend people who experience new symptomatic floaters get a full dilated eye exam, to rule out any tears or detachment of the retina.
There are three symptoms you should definitely watch out for, and they are common symptoms of tears or detachment of the retina
- Seeing flashing lights in the peripheral vision that is continuous and painless
- Seeing a curtain or a shadow-like image that starts gradually to block part of the vision.
- All of a sudden started developing a significant number of floaters, like looking through a snow globe.
While those symptoms are not inclusive if you do see any of those three symptoms. You need to contact your eye doctor right away and get a full dilated eye exam.