Tribune Print Share Text

Floaters in the eye, cranberry juice and urinary tract infections

Created date

April 6th, 2016

Q. As I get older, I notice there are more floaters in my eyes. Can they be harmful?

A. Floaters are little shadowy shapes that move around in your field of vision. They can look like thread-like strands, spots, or squiggly lines. Floaters are caused by shrinkage of the vitreous, which is a gel-like substance that fills most of the eye. As it shrinks, the vitreous pulls away somewhat from the back of the eye, which can cause the gel to become stringy. The stringy strands of gel cast shadows on the retina, and that’s what you see as floaters. For the most part, floaters are harmless. But they can also be caused by infection, bleeding, swelling (uveitis), retinal tears, or injury. Thus, you should always see an eye doctor promptly if you notice an increase in the number of floaters.

Q. Can drinking cranberry juice prevent urinary tract infections?

A. Possibly. Cranberries contain a compound called proanthocyanidin that prevents E. coli and other bacteria from adhering to the cells along the walls of the urinary tract. But according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, research results are mixed—some studies show that drinking cranberry juice may have a preventive effect for urinary tract infections (UTIs), but other studies show that it is no better than a placebo. Further, there is no evidence that cranberries can help treat or cure UTIs once they occur. Drinking cranberry juice is safe, but you have to avoid juices with a lot of added sugars and very little cranberry juice. In addition, if you have symptoms of a UTI such as burning, itching, pain, or urgency, call your doctor immediately.


Brian Tremaine, M.D.

Medical Director, Eagle’s Trace

Houston, Tex.

Dr. Tremaine received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California in Santa Barbara, Calif., and his medical degree from University of California in San Diego. He completed residency and geriatric fellowships at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Tex. Tremaine is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatrics. He joined Eagle’s Trace in November 2011.