Floaters: Laser Floater Removal (Vitreolysis)
If you suffer from vitreous strands and opacities (commonly referred to as “eye floaters”), then you are already familiar with the frustrating visual disturbance caused by these cobweb and cloud-like shadows.
The vitreous humor is the clear, jelly-like substance in the main chamber of the eye, located between the lens and the retina.
At a young age, the vitreous is perfectly transparent. Over time as the eye ages, this vitreous humor can degenerate, loosing 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, which cast shadows on the retina and appear as spots, strings, or cobwebs that are commonly referred to as “floaters”.
In many cases as the eye ages further, the vitreous humor can peel away from the retina entirely. This is known as Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD). PVD is often associated with a sudden increase in the number of floaters.
Laser Floater Removal (LFR), also known as Laser Vitreolysis, is a highly effective, outpatient-based procedure, which involves the use of a nano-pulsed YAG laser to vaporize vitreous strands and opacities (floaters). Highly effective, it has a low complication rate and offers a high degree of patient satisfaction. It can also delay or obviate the need for surgery.
How does vitreolysis work?
Vitreolysis involves the application of nanosecond pulses of low-energy laser light to evaporate the vitreous opacities and to sever the vitreous strands. During this process, the laser energy evaporates the collagen and hyaluronin molecules to form a gas. The end result is that the floater is removed and/or reduced to a size that no longer impedes vision.
What happens during the procedure?
Vitreolysis is performed as an outpatient procedure; you do not have to stay overnight in a hospital. Immediately prior to treatment, your ophthalmologist 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.
During treatment, you 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, your ophthalmologist may treat your eyes with anti-inflammatory drops. It is important to note that most patients will need to undergo two treatment sessions, sometimes three, in order to achieve a satisfactory result. As there is no inflammation post-treatment, these sessions can be performed on consecutive days.