The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has around 1.9 million bits of plastic floating on the surface in every square mile. In a way, those scraps of trash are Earth's floaters.
If you've ever gazed at a blank sheet of paper and seen black wisps and tangles drift through your field of vision, you know what we're talking about. Floaters are a result of vitreous fluid inside your eyeball separating from the back wall of the eye, the retina, producing small stringy bits. Those bits cast a shadow on the retina, and what you see is the shadowy result.
But unlike pollution, there's no harm in learning to ignore floaters. In fact, training your brain to not notice them is an effective and safe way to handle the problem. Most doctors won't operate to remove floaters (by replacing the vitreous fluid) unless your vision is severely compromised. Complications including cataracts and vision loss happen too often.
Your brain is set up to filter out distracting visuals and prioritize what's important. (Note: If floaters come with bright flashes or sharp-edged black areas, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. It may be an emergency: a sight-threatening retinal tear.)
Here are some tricks to reduce your perception of floaters:
Practice extending your focus as far into the distance as possible so you are not "staring at" the floaters.
If they have you stressed, practice meditation for 10 minutes, twice a day, and make a conscious effort to let your thoughts about them float away.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.