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Floaters and airplane cabin pressure ???
I have had 'floaters' in my left eye only since last December, and it started the day I returned home by air from Florida.  I have been seeing an opthalmologist every three months since, and there has been no improvement in the past year.  I wonder if it could have been caused by the cabin pressure in the airplane ???  That can cause pressure problems in the ears; why not the eye?  Dr. said he never heard of it, but anything is possible.  What is your opinion?
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233488 tn?1310696703
No it is not possible.  COINCIDENCE.

JCH MD
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Eye Floaters,
This January, I took a 1 1/2 hr trip on a 747. I experience pressure in the ear and the eyes. Right away I started to see floaters and light flashes. It has been three weeks since the return trip and I still see floaters. According to other web comments, the pressure has caused retinal detachment. On what study does  Dr John Hagan bases his assertion? on his own personal opinion only? If it is evidenced based then his answer would be credible if he references the study that supports his answer.
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233488 tn?1310696703
Pressure changes don't cause RD or floaters for routine commercial flights. I'm not here to argue with you nor do I have time to provide extensive references. If you choose to believe differently so be it.

JCH MD
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I just found this blog because I just searched for eye floaters during flying. As I was flying from LA to Nashville I was looking at the window and all of the sudden and explosion of eye floaters happened. I can't tell if it is both eyes or just one. But I know for a fact it happened on the plane because I saw them shoot through my eye. I still have them in my eyes and it has been 4 days since the flight. Something has to cause them on planes.
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233488 tn?1310696703
No something on planes does not have to cause floaters. This is what happens. People get on planes, people look out the window at the blue sky, blue highlights and brings out floaters and they become aware of them, also blue brings out entopic phenomena like the "flying corpusule" and they see swarms of bright points of lights which are blood cells circulating in the retina.

Flying is only of concern to people with air in their eye or gas from surgery.

JCH MD
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I recently traveled to India from NYC and have had a significant increase in the visibility of eye floaters.

Im not saying the pressure CAUSED/CREATED the particles.  But the pressure could have done something to EXPOSE them more.  Simple logic and physics makes the air pressure theory possible.

Cabin pressure in plane changes rapidly and significantly even though it is stabilized by the internal pressure mechanism.  Anyone who got a hear ache or ear pop can attest to that.

Eye floaters are particles in the fluid of the eye.  Expansion and contraction of the pressure in the eye fluid could "move" or adjust the location of these particles.    


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233488 tn?1310696703
Without gas in the eye changes in cabin pressure should not have an effect on floaters at all other than looking out the window into the blue sky makes them much more noticeable.

JCH MD
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I have experienced a similar increase in floaters following a 1 hr flight to Davis CA. I agree with the increased visibility of floaters when looking into the bright blue sky and my finding of increased floaters is based on this observation. I have flown many times before and never experienced this problem. Perhaps it is due to advancing age and the tendency for liquification of the vitreous humor with age? After several weeks on the ground, the majority of the floaters have disappeared except for a Weiss ring. It is an irritation at best and a potential disaster at worst should the pressurization lead to retinal detachment. I agree with the lack of information and our general ignorance of this potential condition, we still can believe as we wish. I would recommend though in my state of ignorance that if you experience a distinct increase in floaters to check with your opthalmologist to avoid further trauma due to the potential for retinal detachment,  Bill Langridge, Ph.D.
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233488 tn?1310696703
I experiened a PVD and Weiss ring while laying in bed reading a medical journal. Do you think that caused the PVD/Weiss ring or was it just what I was doing when my aging vitreous gave way and pulled away from the back of my eye?

The relationship of some things is co-incidental, not causal.  

JCH MD
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My floaters appears because of barometric pressure, I am convinced, they appears just after my flight to another country below sea level, Dr you need to do some more research, plus I always have heavy pressure in my ears when I fly, so I believe that air pressue cause floaters.  I heard that Luetin full strength will help with the floaters in the eyes.
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233488 tn?1310696703
Ferris: I obviously cannot make you change your opinion and you can have an opinion even if there is no scientific basis for it. Lutein does not help floaters its for macular degeneration prevention.

RE-READ

Without gas in the eye changes in cabin pressure should not have an effect on floaters at all other than looking out the window into the blue sky makes them much more noticeable  Plus hundreds of millions of people fly yearly and spend millions of hours on a plain. By chance some will notice floaters on these trips or the floaters by chance occurred during flight.

JCH MD
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Pressure changes do not cause floaters. Life does!
Almost everybody develops floaters by age 70 by either condensation and clumping of the collagen fibers in the vitreous gel (think: marmalade) or by separation of the gel from the retina due to lifelong contraction of the gel.
External barometric pressure, or hydrostatic when diving, does not affect the gel because the gel is water and water is in-compressible!
Ears are affected because there is air on each side of the eardrum and pressure changes on the outside must be equalized by pressure changes in the middle ear. This is accomplished by the Eustachian tube, unless the tube has been obstructed by congestion. "Popping" your ears opens that tube and equalizes the pressure. The sinus cavities are air pockets in the skull to reduce the weight of the skull. If the openings of the sinuses get blocked then pressure changes become painful. Ask any diver, I am.

Dr Hagan is correct. Purely coincidence with regard to your flight. Floaters happen.
Peace.

Paul G. Mitchell, MD
Ophthalmologist, diver, geek.
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233488 tn?1310696703
Thanks Paul
JCH MD
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