Subjective Grading of Subclinical Vitreous Floaters

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aimed to objectively grade the perception of subclinical floaters in an asymptomatic cohort.

Design

A prospective observational cohort study.

Methods

One hundred eighty-two volunteers (49 men, 133 women) with ages ranging from 17.7 to 78.6 years were recruited for floater assessment. Participants were assessed by a light box and by vitreoscope, after which they graded the floaters using a graphic classification system. They also completed a questionnaire to estimate the impact of floaters on daily life. In addition, biometric and refractive data were documented for all participants.

Results

Using the light box method, 67.6% of participants reported seeing transparent floaters, which increased to 84.1% when using the vitreoscope. Opaque floaters were seen by 15.9% (light box) and 6.5% (vitreoscope). Reported levels of floater discomfort varied between participants, with 80.2% of participants reporting no discomfort and 6.6% reporting moderate to manifest discomfort. The perceived discomfort was weakly correlated with the amount of visualized floaters (light box: Pearson r = 0.323, P < 0.001; vitreoscope: r = 0.174, P < 0.001). Both floater perception and discomfort increased with age (r = 0.203, P = 0.006; r = 0.194, P = 0.009, respectively), although neither changed with axial length or refraction (P = 0.131, P = 0.070, respectively).

Conclusions

The light box and the vitreoscope demonstrate that subclinical floaters are very common, even in nonsymptomatic subjects. The amount of perceived floaters in this cohort correlates only weakly with floater-related discomfort.

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