The medical term is myodesopsia or floaters, but they are often called "flying flies" because they are spots, threads, cobwebs and other floaters that fluctuate in the visual field just as if they were annoying insects. In fact, they are fibres or collagen deposits that are formed within the vitreous humour, the clear and jelly substance that fills the inside of the eye. Due to the constant movement of the eye, these fibres move frequently and what is perceived is the shadow they project on the retina
Floaters are the result of the normal ageing process of the eye, in fact, there is a higher incidence after 50 years of age. Over the years, in fact, the vitreous body undergoes a gradual degeneration, caused primarily by dehydration, which is responsible for the alteration of hyaluronic acid molecules which support the collagen fibrils, major components of the vitreous humour. In the presence of other eye problems, such as myopia, the process is further accelerated and the appearance of floaters may be more precocious.
Floaters, moreover, may be the initial symptom of severe retinal diseases (such as retinal detachment) or vitreous diseases . In fact due to haemorrhage or inflammation, the collagen that makes up the vitreous body may thicken, contracting and moving away from the back of the eye.
The typical symptom of floaters is the vision of objects of various shapes and sizes floating inside the eye which vanish when you try to focus on them. The "flying flies" can disrupt correct vision, creating difficulties in reading. Due to the traction that the vitreous humour exerts on the retina, sometimes it is possible to experience flashes of light, similar to when the eye is hit and "you see stars". Flashes of light can come and go for weeks or months, but over time become increasingly more frequent. If their appearance is sudden and there are flashes of light, call on an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
The patient suffering from floaters is usually very worried about this eye condition, especially if the occurrence of the symptom has been sudden. In some cases, especially when the problem affects both eyes and floaters are of significant size, the patient reports considerable visual difficulties and considers the problem highly debilitating, to the point of even developing depressed behaviour.
It is therefore very likely that most patients call on an ophthalmologist who, through a careful examination of the eye and visual function will provide the correct diagnosis and rule out more serious problems such as retinal detachment and other retinal diseases.
In the absence of concomitant retinal abnormalities, the ophthalmologist can first give the patient a series of recommendations such as:
1. increase daily water intake
2. always use corrective lenses (when indicated, e.g. high myopia)
3. avoid, at least initially, rapid eye movements (as happens for example when reading)
4. avoid prolonged exposure to intense sun without protective glasses, because UV light accelerates the degradation process of vitreous humour fibres
5. follow a healthy diet, low in animal fat and high calorie foods but with plenty of fruit and vegetables (free radicals accelerate vitreous degradation processes)
6. use specific dietary supplements, to give the organism necessary substances to stop further degeneration of the vitreous body.
SIFI proposes a range of nutraceuticals formulated specifically to ensure adequate dietary intake to maintain a healthy retina.