How can floaters be treated?
A relatively novel procedure worldwide is the vitreolysis, which is a painless laser treatment of vitreous opacities. This surgery doesn’t require wounds because the laser acts with great precision inside the eye while removing the floaters. Hundreds of shots are usually fired at the desired ill part of the vitreous, where the vitreous material is converted into gas bubbles. After a few days the gas bubbles are absorbed from the vitreous, until which they are seen as tiny spheres mainly in the lower half of the visual field.
What is the course of the treatment?
The laser treatment of vitreous opacities is a painless surgical procedure because there are no nerve endings in the vitreous. Nevertheless a special contact lens is placed on the surface of the eye after surface anesthesia to limit the movement of the eyeball as well as for better visibility and aiming of the laser beam during the treatment. The procedure is performed at a slit lamp and usually takes 10-30 minutes.
What should I to do before and after treatment?
A full ophthalmic examination is performed prior to the procedure, with a supplementary OCT test of the macula. If necessary an additional ultrasound examination is also carried out. No other additional medical, laboratory or other imaging tests are required routinely before or after the treatment.
After surgery your vision will be temporarily blurry due to pupil dilation, which lasts for 3 to 6 hours. After this period there are no restrictions and you can continue your normal lifestyle.
What is the outcome of the treatment?
The laser beam results in the complete disappearance of opacity at the site of treatment, however, one haze can be removed by delivering hundreds of thousands of laser pulses. The manageability of floaters are determined by their size, density, hardness and location. There are also thin opacities that the ophthalmologist notices, but which do not bother the patient, so they are not treated.
The most spectacular results are seen after the treatment of the so-called Weiss ring, which is a suddenly appeared floater after posterior vitreous detachment. It is important to know that only a certain number of laser pulses are safely worn by the eye at a time, so in some cases several sessions may be needed to achieve a satisfactory result and this becomes apparent during treatment.
The whole of the vitreous does not disappear with the treatment, only a small fragment of it, so the tiny, thin fibers that make up the gel material remain untouched, but they are usually unnoticeable to our eyes. For example, after posterior vitreous detachment the hundreds of minor hazes seen next to the Weiss ring usually do not cause any complaints. However, in some cases, some of these minor, thin opacities may become disturbing, albeit to a lesser extent. In such cases, their further treatment requires individual assessment and no perfect result can be expected, as it is impossible to eliminate them all or would require a great deal of treatment.
When can the treatment be performed?
The sudden appearance of any floater require as soon as possible ophthalmic examination in order to make an accurate diagnosis and to rule out other ophthalmic urgencies. Treatment can be safely performed a few weeks after the appearance of opacities, as long as there are no abnormal vitreous or retinal lesions that require other ophthalmic care.