Q. What are Floaters?
Floaters are small pieces of debris that float in the eye’s vitreous humor (clear, jelly-like substance between the lens and the retina). This debris casts shadows on the retina (the light-sensitive tissue layer at the back of the eye). If you have floaters, it is these shadows that you see floating across your field of vision.
Q. How Did I Get Floaters?
At a young age, the vitreous is perfectly transparent. Over time as the eye ages, this vitreous humor can degenerate, losing its form and liquefying. Without the stable vitreous humor, the collagen fibers collapse and bind together to form clumps and knots. It is these fibers that cast shadows on the retina and appear as spots, strings, or cobwebs (floaters).
Q. What Is Vitreolysis?
Also known as floater laser removal, laser vitreolysis is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure that can eliminate the visual disturbance caused by floaters. The procedure uses nanosecond pulses of low-energy laser light to evaporate the collagen and hyaluronin molecules that cause the floaters. The end result is that the floater is removed and/or reduced to a size that no longer impedes vision. It is performed on site in our Norwalk office and typically takes less than an hour per treatment session. It may require multiple sessions depending on the degree of your floaters.
Q. What Is Vitreolysis Like For The Patient?
Immediately prior to treatment in our office, we will administer eye drops to prepare the eye and to provide mild anesthesia. A contact lens will then be placed on your eye, with the laser light delivered through a specially designed microscope. Patients will likely observe small, dark specks/shadows – signaling that the floaters are being evaporated into small gas bubbles. These gas bubbles quickly dissolve and reabsorb into the vitreous humor.
Once the treatment is complete, Dr. Spector will treat your eyes with anti-inflammatory drops. There is normally no inflammation post-treatment. You may observe small, dark specks in your lower field of vision immediately following treatment, but these small gas bubbles will quickly dissolve and will not impede vision.
Q. Am I A Candidate For Vitreolysis?
While some floaters can be effectively treated, several floater types are difficult to treat and/or less likely to regress than others. To that end, it is necessary to first undergo an ophthalmic examination in order to determine your eligibility for vitreolysis treatment. Generally-speaking, if you suffer from persistent moving shadows in your vision due to vitreal condensations, fibers, strands, and/or clouds, you are a good candidate for vitreolysis. A number of factors, such as age, onset of symptoms and floater characteristics, will also determine whether vitreolysis is your best treatment option.