I remember a patient from my clinical practice who was so bothered by her floaters that she resigned from her office job because she couldn’t cope seeing floaters every time she looked at her screen. I had heard of a new laser treatment that was available in a different city and researched this for her but she declined a referral. She’d worked for 40 years and was ready for a change any way. The floaters persuaded her that now was the time.
I have a few floaters myself and notice them when lying on the beach and looking into the sky or when I look at a white wall. They don’t bother me.
For patients with bothersome floaters, YAG laser vitreolysis is an effective, non-invasive, pain-free outpatient-based procedure that uses laser to vaporize vitreous strands and opacities.
The aim of YAG laser vitreolysis is to achieve an improvement for patients so they don’t notice floaters and can continue with activities without the symptoms caused by shadows cast on the retina.
Using a specialised contact lens, the laser is focused onto the front surface of the floater and the laser energy converts the collagen and hyaluronin molecules (this is what most age-related floaters consist of) to a gas, which is then resorbed into the eye.
The procedure takes 20-30 minutes; some people require up to 3 three courses of treatment over the course of 4 to 6 weeks.
It is particularly suited to the Weiss-ring type of floater caused by posterior vitreous detachment. This type of floater is fibrous, and this means it absorbs the laser energy well which results in more effective vaporisation.
YAG laser vitreolysis has around 90% patient satisfaction and complications (cataract and intraocular pressure spike) are very rare.