Ever notice a tiny speck floating around in your vision? Or maybe it’s not so little, and it’s obscuring your vision. You’re not alone! Almost everyone experiences floaters, which are commonly a sign of age. They are typically harmless, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. If you are living with bothersome floaters, we may have a solution for you.
Previously, those with floaters only had two treatment options: live with them, or undergo vitrectomy. Undergoing a vitrectomy, a major eye surgery that comes with a lot of risks, is understandably reserved for serious medical cases – not something harmless like floaters. So, up until recently, many people just learned to live with floaters. Today, we have floater vitreolysis.
What are Floaters?
Many people think floaters are little specks on the surface of their eye. That is what it looks like! However, floaters are located on the inside of the eye, and no amount of rubbing or eye drops will get rid of them. Floaters occur inside of the substance that fills the eye – called the vitreous humor (or vitreous gel). This substance is liquid when you are young, and becomes more gel-like as you age. Sometimes, especially as you age, small clumps can form inside of the vitreous. These small clumps cast a shadow on the retina and appear as floaters in your visual field. Floaters can move around inside of your eye and sometimes disappear on their own.
What Causes Floaters?
Age, mostly. Floaters are extremely common and happen to almost everyone. Floaters by themselves are harmless. However, floaters can be a symptom of a larger problem. If you notice a sudden increase in floaters, be sure to seek medical help immediately. This can be a sign of retinal detachment, a serious medical condition.
What Is Floater Vitreolysis?
Floater vitreolysis is a laser procedure that can be used to eliminate or reduce the occurrence of floaters. This procedure is performed using a specialized laser called the YAG laser. This procedure is also commonly called YAG laser vitreolysis. This procedure is minimally invasive and has very few associated complications when compared to vitrectomy.
How Does It Work?
Floater vitreolysis is an outpatient procedure that can take as little as 5 minutes or up to half an hour, depending on the number of floaters. The YAG laser is used to essentially vaporize the floaters in your eye. To start, your surgeon will dilate your pupil and administer numbing eye drops. A special contact lens for treating floaters is placed on the eye. The laser is then focused to a 6-micron thick spot on the cornea, carefully aimed at the target floater. The laser may also be aimed at the floater’s attachments so that the floater will be repositioned to a different part of the eye. This disruption helps the eye absorb any remaining particles. Your surgeon will then use the YAG laser to vaporize big floaters but may need to leave small floaters that cannot be safely aimed at.
There is no incision or discomfort during this procedure. There will be no restrictions on activities after the procedure. Not all floaters can be vaporized in one sitting, so you may need a second treatment to achieve desired results.
We are one of a few practices providing this revolutionary procedure. If you are interested in learning more about floater vitreolysis, contact Bausch Eye Associates in Allentown, PA today, or by scheduling an appointment online.