What are floaters?
Most floaters appear as black or grey specks that move when you shift your eyes. They may also look like strings or cobwebs in your vision that appear to move away when you try to look at them.
What causes floaters?
The majority of floaters are caused by age-related changes to the jelly-like substance inside the eyes (vitreous). As we grow older, tiny fibers in the vitreous form into clumps and cast shadows on the retina, which you see as floaters. These eye changes are normal, as the vitreous shrinks and sags with age. The shrinking of the vitreous usually causes the vitreous to separate from the rest of the eye. At that time, the vitreous can pull on the retina and cause a retinal tear or a retinal detachment. Separations of the vitreous are common. In fact, they are present in 80 percent of patients by age 60. The probability of experiencing a spontaneous retinal detachment is low but any patient with new floaters, flashes or loss of peripheral vision should have an eye exam as soon as possible to make sure a more serious eye problem that could lead to blindness is not present.
In some cases, floaters can be caused by inflammation in the back of the eye (posterior uveitis), bleeding in the eye, retinal tears, or as a result of eye surgery or eye medications. Any patient with new floaters should have a comprehensive eye examination.
How are floaters treated?
A comprehensive eye exam must be conducted in order to determine the underlying cause of floaters. Patients over age 50 will be examined to rule out floaters that are caused by diabetes, retinal problems, eye diseases or prescription medications.
For patients with more severe cases of floaters, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the vitreous (vitrectomy) and replace it with a solution to help the eye maintain its shape. Laser floater treatment, or laser vitreolysis, is a minimally invasive floater treatment option for patients whose symptoms do not warrant a vitrectomy.
Laser Floater Treatment (LFT)
If you suffer from eye floaters, you understand how frustrating it can be to see stringy, cobweb-like shadows in your field of vision. For most adults, floaters are a minor inconvenience, but for some, the eye condition can negatively impact quality of life.
Eye Physicians of Long Beach is proud to utilize the most advanced technology for laser floater treatment. The Ultra Q Reflex™ laser with Reflex Technology™ ensures ultra-precise accuracy to reduce or eliminate vision problems caused by floaters.
What is laser floater treatment?
Laser floater treatment, also referred to as laser vitreolysis, is a minimally invasive procedure that uses laser energy to provide significant relief from eye floaters. The technique can be an excellent treatment alternative for patients whose symptoms and risk profile do not warrant floater treatment with vitrectomy.
Laser floater treatment vs. Vitrectomy
Unlike vitrectomy surgery, laser floater treatment does not require removal of the vitreous humor, the gel-like substance that gives the eye its shape. Instead, the laser is used to vaporize the floater and turn it into a gas bubble that is reabsorbed in the eye.
Some patients may not be candidates for the laser, depending on the symptom severity of the floaters. While vitrectomy is a highly effective treatment for floaters, the procedure does carry a higher risk of side effects and complications.
Research shows that patients who undergo vitrectomy may be more at risk to develop the following post-surgery complications:
- Retinal detachment
- Macular edema
By contrast, laser floater treatment is a simple, in-office procedure with a low complication rate and high degree of patient satisfaction. Post-treatment medications are not necessary, and there are no restrictions on activities after the procedure is complete.
Ultra Q Reflex™ Laser with Reflex Technology™
The Ultra Q Reflex™ from Ellex is the fastest and most efficient microsurgical laser in the ophthalmologic industry. In addition to delivering focal accuracy and efficient energy delivery for laser floater treatment, capsulotomy, and iridotomy procedures, the Ultra Q Reflex™ provides safe and precise eye treatment with higher comfort levels than what patients normally experience with lasers.
How does it work?
First, patients must undergo a full dilated eye exam with special attention to the retina and periphery. A topical anesthetic is applied to the eye that is receiving treatment, and your doctor will fit your eyes with a special contact lens that’s meant to help focus the laser.
From there, your doctor will begin to apply pulses of laser energy to the floaters inside the vitreous until all of them are vaporized. Laser floater treatment lasts approximately 5 to 15 minutes.
Is it safe?
Absolutely. Using enhanced visual modes on the Ultra Q Reflex™ laser system, your ophthalmologist has a full visualization of your eye, from the cornea to the retina. This enhanced ability permits your doctor to treat floaters in any part of the eye while minimizing the potential for focusing errors and retinal damage.
Laser Floater Treatment, Long Beach
Curious to know if you’re a candidate for laser floater treatment? Call (562) 799-2020 or schedule an appointment to discuss your options with an ophthalmologist in Long Beach.