Q&A From Dr. Besser: Eyes, Ears, & Varicose Veins?

.      What are the causes of earaches?

Earaches can be caused by infections in the middle ear (ear drum), ear canal (swimmers ear), due to a sore in the ear (like a pimple) or the pain could come from non-ear causes such as a sinus infection, a sore throat, jaw problems,  or neck problems.

2.      Can you give me information on what causes vitreous floaters in the eye. How long do they last?

Let me start that answer with a little anatomy lesson. The eye is a globe filled with a jelly-like substance called vitreous humor.  Normally, the vitreous humor is clear (like clear jello) but over time small pieces of trash can get trapped into the vitreous. This happens to everyone over time as the vitreous ages. Occasionally these pieces of trash float in front of the retina so one can actually see them (like looking thru a slightly dirty pane of glass).  Because the vitreous is fluid, these trash bits move around and move in and out of the visual field, giving the appearance of floating.  Floaters are not dangerous and happen to most of us as we age.  You should become concerned only if the floaters don’t move (as if there is a constant black spot in the same place) or if your overall vision suddenly declines.  Remember, you need to get an annual eye exam just like you get an annual exam of the rest of your body.

3.      What causes varicose veins? My legs look terrible, and I wear slacks all the time as I feel I look terrible in a skirt.

Varicose veins are dialated blood vessels.  Most people know they happen in the legs, but they can happen anywhere.  They occur because the blood coming back from the body to the heart pools in the veins and causes the veins to stretch.  As we age, the vein walls become thinner and weaker making it easier for them to stretch. Other things can contribute to varicose veins too- especially things that put pressure on the blood so its harder to pump back up to the heart (like being overweight, which puts can limit circulation but the weight laying on the veins or pregnancy where the uterus pushes against the veins).  Other things can also cause the veins to weaken- such as too much alcohol or some drugs. Things to help the problem: support stockings. They compress the veins and help strengthen them from the outside.  You can also speak with a vascular surgeon about having a procedure done which, in essense, seals off the large varicose veins so no further blood will go to them- thus they will shrink over time.



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