Notice: Members of the detached-retina newsgroup have received a post stating that there is a group at the University of Naples, Italy, working on finding better replacements for the vitreous gel to be used in vitrectomies. Apparently, this group has discovered that the vitreous is a thixotropic mixture, meaning that it solidifies to protect the retina when there is a rapid head movement, and re-liquefies when the movement stops. The thixotropic properties may be in addition to the viscoelastic properties which help to absorb shocks. The thixotropic properties are obtained only from a mixture of hyaluronic acid, proteoglycans and collagen in exactly the right proportions. When these proportions become defective such as in syneresis and PVD, then the vitreous becomes dangerous to the retina instead of protecting it (which we all know by now). The difficulty of reconstructing such a delicate balance of ingredients has obviously hampered research attempts to remodel the vitreous gel. However, it would appear that this group at the University of Naples is in a good position to address the floater problem. Perhaps they could set up a sub-group to investigate non-invasive options to clear floaters and generally improve the condition of the degenerate vitreous. I suggest we all contact them to ask them to help us. Maybe, someone who has the financial means could also sponsor them to set up a subgroup.
Last Edit: Dec 17, 2004 21:51:17 GMT -5 by Quatermax
Hi Larry and all floater sufferers out there. Thanks for the compliment, but it seems like I was on top of the "old stuff". First, I don`t know whether the original post in the detached-retina newsgroup meant the vitreous was thixotropic (more liquid-like on movement) or reverse thixotropic. But maybe she got it wrong. It is thixotropic (it liquefies on movement to protect the retina, and does not solidify). Because I came across this earlier reference from 1952! www.jgp.org/cgi/content/abstract/36/1/29 Here, they definitely say the vitreous is "thixotropic". It seems that back in 1952, they were poised and raring to go to find ways of chemically improving a degenerated vitreous. What happened. Why was this information not taken as a springboard to find out more. Why was it ignored - leaving the notion that the vitreous "has no function in the adult eye" to become part of the standard university teaching. For something that "has no function", it seems that Nature has gone to extraordinary lengths to create a thixotropic mixture from a very delicate balance of ingredients. Well, there you are. In conclusion, I want to wish everybody a Happy New Year with better vision. PS We contact the group at Naples by brushing up our Italian, or getting an Italian floater sufferer to telephone/visit them.
Last Edit: Dec 30, 2004 13:27:14 GMT -5 by Quatermax
You may notice that this work from 1952 mentions that the vitreous contains cystine and aromatic aminoacids in low quantities. I believe these substances are there for a purpose. It is also noteworthy that iodine-rich foods like kelp which are claimed to ameliorate floaters also contain cysteine (which is converted by the body to cystine as needed). Eggs, broccoli and lentil sprouts also contain cysteine in high quantities. Apart from food sources, our bodies also make cysteine from "homocysteine", a bad aminoacid said to be largely responsible for arteriosclerosis and heart disease, by using folic acid, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6. Homocysteine oxidizes LDL cholesterol, thereby making it dangerous. On the other hand, the conversion product, cysteine (cystine) has very strong documented health benefits (maybe even vitreous health which has not yet been documented). However, since folic acid and B vitamin levels drop with age, web sources advise us not to increase cysteine if homocysteine is already elevated, and always to accompany cysteine intake with folic acid and Vitamin B12 supplementation.
Last Edit: Dec 31, 2004 15:02:13 GMT -5 by Quatermax
You are up on your science Quartermax. I'd have to spend a few hours researching your info just to understand what you're talking about. However, like you I have reasonably concluded that the vitreous isn't a benign chunk of gel that only serves a purpose when the eye was initially forming. I think nature errored in allowing it to breakdown (syneresis) while most of us are our only middle-aged. Then again life spans used to be much shorter.
I am a researcher and I would like to ask people to do a simple test to support my theory that a bacterial infection is the cause of most eye floaters.
test: Take a strong acting fluid like alcohol or citronella oil and apply this to the palm of your hands. Rub gently and see if dark little fibers or specks appear. If not, wash and dry your hands. Let them dry and look with an electric light against a black field for the presence of transparent little hairs to appear on top of the skin.
If positive, You may be infected with a new bacterium.
I mentioned your post to another floater sufferer, and commented on it to him as follows. May I post it here. Firstly there is no need to invent a new bacterium when coalesced collagen fibrils in the degenerate vitreous are quite enough on their own to cause floaters, and when a PVD looks like a huge jellyfish. Secondly, I do not know in what sense alcohol or citronella are "strong", and why rubbing them on the hands could point to an eye infection. Thirdly, we all have transparent hairs on the skin. Fourthly, the laser treatment by Drs. Geller and Karickhoff could hardly succeed in destroying bacteria, except perhaps in the "Invaders" TV series starring David Vincent. I don`t know whether your post was on the level, or whether you just wanted to have some fun. I have heard that inflammation such as uveitis which is sometimes linked to eye floaters can sometimes be caused by pathogens, but I think it is very doubtful if bacteria are responsible for all the vitreous degeneration and fiber clumping we are seeing.