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Vitreolysis – Laser Floater Removal

Floaters are often overlooked as a very common symptom of vitreous deterioration, the negative effect they might have on patient’s life can be enough to look for a treatment. In the past, the only available treatment for floaters was vitrectomy, during which the surgeon would replace the vitreous with a fresh new liquid.

What are floaters?

Floaters are small lines, cobwebs, dots, circles lines or any other shapes that seem to be “floating” in your field of vision. They are more visible when looking at something bright or plain, like a blank wall or a blue sky. These floaters are actually shadows of tiny clumps of protein inside of the vitreous, which is the substance inside of your eye. As a result of the aging process, the vitreous starts to break down over time and these protein clumps start to form. They cast a shadow onto the retina making them visible. Floaters are usually created by vitreous pulling away from the back of the eye. This is called posterior vitreous detachment. Floaters are not serious and they may go away after a while on their own. If someone suffers from a severe case of floater and the following qualifying symptoms are present, Dr. Stolte may recommend Vitreolysis:


  • Floaters are visible to the doctor
  • They have been noticeable for a least 3 months
  • They affect a patient’s daily activities


Risk factors

Patients who have encountered the following have a higher chance of having floaters:


  • Inflammation inside the eye
  • Cataract surgery
  • Patients are nearsighted
  • What are the flashes?


Flashes occur when vitreous is pulling or rubbing on the retina before it detaches. These flashes can look either like a bright flash of light or lightning streak in your field of vision, and they may see them on-and-off for weeks, even months. This is a fairly common occurrence as we age.

When to consult your doctor?

In most cases these flashes and floaters are not a problem, however, they can be a sign of a serious issue, and you should see an ophthalmologist right away if:


  • You suddenly see a lot of new floaters
  • You see what appears a gray curtain covering a part of your vision
  • You have noticed a lot of light flashes
  • A shadow appears in your peripheral vision


All of the symptoms listed above could mean that your retina may have a tear or it is detached (which is when the retina is pulled from the back of the eye). Because this is a serious condition it needs to be diagnosed and treated immediately.

Evaluation of floaters


Floaters can be very annoying to deal with and in some cases, they might affect one's life where everyday task become more difficult to complete. It is important to determine the difference between what the patient is experiencing and what the doctor sees during the examination. The most important factor in the successful treatment of floaters is deciding who to treat. One of the reasons eye care providers underestimate serious symptoms of floaters is that they usually check patients’ for visual acuity and visual fields, but don’t forget to check contrast sensitivity. Many time the floater “float” into patients’ central vision, making it more difficult to complete daily tasks like driving, reading.

Treatment

Vitrectomy - this is a surgical procedure during which Dr. Stolte removes vitreous from the eye and replaces it with a clear substance. But this procedure comes with a few risks because the procedure requires the physician to create three holes in the eye increasing the probability of developing an infection. It can also accelerate the development of cataract, because of increased oxygen concentration in the vitreous cavity during the removal procedure. However, the retinal detachment is the biggest risk, with some sources producing reports of upwards of around 11% chance of retina detaching.

YAG Laser floater removal – surgeons have been using YAG laser for many years for YAG capsulotomy, but in recent years more powerful version of this laser has been tested to treat floaters, and after the FDA approval of this treatment it finally became an option to treat floaters. During the laser floater removal, Dr. Staolte aims his laser with an aid of a special lens at the floaters in the vitreous, which breaks them up into smaller less noticeable pieces. The number of treatments needed to get satisfying results depends on the number and the size of the floaters.

Before Dr. Stolte determines whether you are a good candidate for the laser floater removal he may ask you a few questions:


  • How long have you had floaters?
  • Which eye has floaters
  • Have you noticed in recent week and increased number of floaters?
  • Have you seen flashes of light?
  • Have you ever undergo eye surgery?
  • Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes?


If you or someone you know suffers from floaters, please call our office at 352-666-9990 to set up an appointment for laser floater removal evaluation at Stolte Eye Center.

Stolte Eye Center