Eye Floaters Disability ClaimsEye floaters are little oddly shaped objects in various shapes and sizes that float around in the vitreous, the clear gel that fills the eyeball. When they float in the line of vision, they are seen as spots, cobwebs and randomly twisted strings.

In ophthalmology, “vitreous floaters” or “eye floaters” is a collective term for vitreous opacities which are traced back to different causes. Sometimes floaters are thought to be a result of grave complications in the eye. Mostly, however, they are regarded as a normal opacity of the vitreous due to progressing age. In the followings, we shall consider only those harmless floaters which are perceptible in the field of vision as mobile transparent scattered points and threads visible at daylight. Eye floaters are classified as so-called “entoptic phenomena”, subjective visual appearances not arising from exterior sense stimuli but produced by our own visual system. Other entoptic appearances are afterimages, phosphenes, flying corpuscles (blue field entoptic phenomenon), form constants, and others. In this project, the main focus lies on eye floaters; other entoptic appearances are mentioned occasionally as well.

What are eye floaters exactly? Although they are termed as “floaters,” they do not really move. Commonly, floaters tend to shrink into the part of the eye dependent on the body’s position. Also, you might not be aware that you have floaters because you do not see it. The brain is able to remove the image of the floaters because they tend to have a fixed location. This is called a neural adaptation, which is similar to not recognizing that you are wearing your shoes or bracelet when the body is already used to wearing them. Another reason that hinders you from seeing the floaters is that they tend to appear in images with a light and plain foreground. Examples of these images are the screen of your computer or the blue sky. When your eyes focus on these images, it contracts, reducing the size of light’s entry point. This makes the floaters more visible.

Floaters appear in different forms and sizes. It can be in spots, fragments, cobwebs or threads. These images move within your field of vision, either in one or both of eyes. When you see floaters, your brain will tell you to gaze at them, which is almost impossible to do. Remember that floaters are within your eyes, and they tend to move in the direction of your eyes. If you try to stare at the floater, you would get an impression that the floater is fleeing from your gaze. Some can also mistakenly identify floaters as optical illusions, which is incorrect because they really exist, but they are within the eyes. When you see images that are caused by objects within the eyes, it is termed as an entoptic phenomenon.

Here are the key causes of floaters in the eye.

  • Vitreous Liquefaction

As we grow older, a process called syneresis takes place whereby small, random parts of the vitreous liquefies, creating pockets of liquid within the firm vitreous. Sometimes, the boundary between the normal and the liquid vitreous are reflected by light onto the retina, causing floaters to be seen. During this process also, some of the collagen fibers combine and appear as a twisted or a tangled ball of thread.

  • PVD (Posterior Vitreous Detachment)

As more and more of the vitreous liquefies, the vitreous starts to lose its firmness and begins to slowly detach itself from the retina.

This is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Sometimes the vitreous pulls too hard on the retina, causing it to bleed. The traces of blood or the debris caused by PVD are then seen as eye floaters.

  • Retinal Detachment

We have always been warned to seek medical attention if floaters appear very suddenly. Here is the reason.

When a retinal tear occurs, liquid vitreous will slowly flow into the inner layer of the retina, causing it to completely detach itself from the underlying layer. This is called retinal detachment and can lead to blindness. Retinal detachment is preceded by a sudden appearance of floaters.

  • Bleeding from blood vessels in the eye

As the vitreous pulls away from the retina, it may cause a retinal blood vessel to rupture. The blood traces will flow into the vitreous, causing the appearance of eye floaters.

  • Drugs

Statistics have shown that there are certain drugs that show a symptom of eye floaters. However, there is inconclusive proof that taking these medications may result in eye floaters.

  • Eye Injury

Sometimes a hard blow to the eye may also cause floaters to appear. During impact, the rapid push and pull exerted on the eyeball may cause the vitreous to pull hard on the retina, causing the retina to tear.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy

As a result of having high sugar levels for an extended period of time, diabetics risk having an eye complication called diabetic retinopathy. This is a condition where the blood capillaries that supply nutrients to the retina start to change. Sometimes these vessels swell and drip small amounts of liquid or blood into the eye. Sometimes the blood vessels close off, causing inadequate blood supply to the retina. When this happens, new blood vessels emerge to compensate for the ones that no longer function. The new blood vessels are fragile and rupture easily. When this happens, blood flows into the vitreous, causing eye floaters to appear.

  • Cataract surgery

Eye operations, such as cataract surgery can cause eye trauma, or change the position of the vitreous, subsequently giving rise to posterior vitreous detachment. Another reason why floaters appear after a cataract operation is that patients are able to see better after the operation, and may mistake existing floaters as new floaters.

  • Eye Inflammation

The inflammation of the eye, or uveitis, can occur as a result of an infection. Uveitis can trigger liquefaction of the vitreous, which we’ve learned earlier leads to PVD, a leading cause of floaters in the eye.

  • Stress

Many individuals who suffer from stress believe it had something to do with their floaters. Regardless of the absence of medical studies to prove this, there is a general acceptance of this relationship among those who suffer from both eye floaters and stress.

If you already know what floaters are, and just want information on how to get rid of them, then there are generally 2 approaches;

  1. Surgical Treatment

There are two types of medical procedure that are currently available to treat floaters. However, doctors generally hesitate to recommend these treatments unless the patients have decreased vision from floaters. These treatments are also expensive and are not commonly available at any hospital since they can only be performed by specially-trained surgeons.

Here are the 2 medical options.

  • yAG Laser

The treatment involves focusing a laser beam onto the floaters at an appropriate energy level that is strong enough to vaporize them. For some other floaters that aren’t so easily vaporized, they are broken to a size that is not noticeable by the patient.

Although newer yAG laser machines have become easier to use, the success in treating floaters is still dependent on the experience of the surgeon. There are several challenges that the surgeon is faced with. Firstly, the object being targeted is in motion. If the laser beam misses the target, it may damage the surrounding tissues that it accidentally hits. Secondly, unless the vitreous is fully illuminated, the surgeon will not be able to see all the floaters, so some floaters will still be left untreated. Thirdly, an extended treatment may cause pressure in the eyeball to build up. If left unmanaged, it may damage the retina.

  • Floaters-only Vitrectomy (FOV)

This is an eye surgery that involves making 3 incisions into the white of the eye – a light source, a cutting instrument that cuts up the vitreous and sucks it out of the eye, and a pipe that fills up the empty space with saline solution. This procedure is usually carried out to treat more serious eye conditions and is normally considered too risky to use on simple conditions such as floaters. The potential risks include infection, bleeding, cataract and retinal detachment. The surgery is normally performed by an ophthalmic surgeon with specialized training, so the success of this procedure is also dependent on the experience of the surgeon.

  1. Non-surgical Treatment

The Internet can both be helpful and confusing at the same time, especially if you’re hoping to find a natural cure for an ailment. Looking for a remedy for floaters is no exception. Different people have found success by applying different solutions. And a lot more have found the very same solution ineffective.

So how then can we effectively get rid of floaters? The best approach is one that takes into account what causes eye floaters in the first place.

Floaters can be caused by a variety of factors, such as age-related degeneration of the vitreous, medical conditions, drugs or just simply stress. Any approach that attempts to address some of these causes will have a better chance of curing floaters.

Eye floaters are stressing and bothersome, to say the least. They can bring untold suffering to the way you carry on with your daily life besides posing a risk of reduced vision or total blindness. That you have floaters in the eye doesn’t automatically mean that you’re now condemned to a life of wearing eye contact lenses or glasses.

It’s important that you find ways to correct the condition as soon as you notice it. Besides wearing eye contact lenses, there are other treatment options you can turn to with the most immediate being undergoing an eye surgery to remove the floaters. While this might sound like the most practical option, it also comes with a number of risks which you may want to consider before undergoing the doctor’s knife.

Laser eye surgeries will get rid of floaters in the eyes, but in the long run, you may have to deal with more serious conditions like poor eyesight. What most people don’t know is that they can treat eye floaters by simply changing the way they live. Sometimes a change in lifestyle is all you need to do to get rid of those nagging floaters in your eye.

Here are some of the simple lifestyle changes that will help treat floaters in the eyes.

  • Quit smoking. Excessive smoking has been linked to causing the formation of floaters in the eyes. If you love your cigarette, then it’s about time you consider abandoning the habit. Not only will you be improving your overall health, but you will help stop worsening the condition of the floaters.

Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals that work to deprive the body of vital vitamins and nutrients. Cigarette smoke is laced with free radicals which can cause harm to the eye in addition to worsening the state of the eyes. If you want to keep eye floaters in check, quit smoking!

  • Stop or reduce your alcohol intake. Excessive consumption of alcohol is harmful to your eye’s health as it is to the body. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can trigger a formation of vitreous humor in the eye. The vitreous humor is a gel-like substance in the eye that is age related and has been associated with the development of floaters. Alcohol also deprives the body of water which leads to dehydration.

When your body is dehydrated, so are the eye’s a situation which leads to a worsening state of the floaters. The vitreous humor is composed of 98% water content and it loses shape when you’re dehydrated. The proteins in this gel-like solution are not fully dissolved causing the formation of floaters. Quit or reduce the amount of alcohol you consume if you want to make your eyesight better.

  • Get enough sleep. Working on the computer or watching television for long hours may lead to tiring of the eyes. It’s imperative that you get enough sleep to make sure the eyes have enough rest. This will help them repair and heal. Sleep will also make sure that the eyes are relieved of pressure as well. Doctors recommend that you should get at least eight hours of sleep each day.
  • Reduce stress levels. Find ways to handle your levels of stress and anxiety and you will improve your vision fast in addition to lessening the eye floaters. Research has revealed that anxiety and stress can trigger the formation of floaters in the eye and impede healing in the long run. Some of the ways you can reduce stress include meditation, herbal treatments, and other relaxation techniques.

It’s possible to treat eye floaters without having to undergo an eye surgery as outlined above. So, before you make that trip to the doctor, be sure to evaluate your lifestyle and make the necessary adjustments.

Eye Floaters and Occupational Disability

Definition of Disability
Long Term Disability Insurance definitions vary. Here are some typical ones:

you are disabled when the Insurance Company determines that:

  • you are limited from performing the material and substantial duties of your regular occupation due to your sickness or injury; and – you have a 20% or more loss in your indexed monthly earnings due to the same sickness or injury.

After 36 months of payments, you are disabled the Insurance Company determines that due to the same sickness or injury, you are unable to perform the duties of any gainful occupation for which you are reasonably fitted by education, training or experience

Note how the definition changes after 36 months.

Here is another

Total Disability or Totally Disabled means during your Elimination Period and the next Own Occupation Period (shown in the Benefit Highlights), you, because of your Injury or Sickness, are unable to perform the Material and Substantial Duties of your Own Occupation.  After Total or’ Partial Disability benefits combined have been paid to you for Own Occupation Period (shown in the Benefit Highlights), you will continue to be considered Totally Disabled if you are unable to perform, with reasonable continuity, any Gainful Occupation for which you are or become reasonably qualified for by education, training or experience.

And another

you will be considered totally disabled if all these conditions are met:

  1. you are unable to do the substantial and material duties of your regular occupation.  your regular occupation is your usual work when total disability starts.  If you are retired and not working when total disability starts, your regular occupation will be the normal activities of a retired person of like age; and
  2. your total disability starts while this policy is in force; and
  3. your total disability results from sickness or injury; and
  4. you are receiving medical care from a doctor which is appropriate for the injury or sickness.  When in the opinion of the doctor future care would be of no benefit to you, then the requirement of receiving medical care will be considered to be met.  Doctor means all providers of medical care other than yourself, when such services are within the scope of the provider’s licensed authority.

And California has its own common law definition

California law requires courts to deviate from total disability definitions in some instances Hangarter v. Provident Life and Acc. Ins. Co, 373 F.3d 998, 1006 (9th Cir. 2004). Sometimes, it’s called the Erreca standard. California requires when coverage for “any occupation” is too narrow, the Court must read a common sense definition into the policy based on two cases.  Erreca v. Western States Life Insurance Company, 19 Cal. 2d 388 (Cal. 1942), and Moore v. American United Life Insurance Company, 150 Cal. App. 3d 610 (Cal. Ct. App. 1984). These two cases, when read together define total disability “does not signify an absolute state of helplessness but means such a disability as renders the insured unable to perform the substantial and material acts necessary to the prosecution of a business or occupation in the usual or customary way.”