Eye floaters: How to get rid of them

Patients with eye floaters who have been told nothing can be done, or to wait for it to go away, aren’t being given the right information.

It is estimated that around 30 percent of the general population have symptomatic eye floaters, yet the impact of this common visual problem on a patient’s quality of life remains grossly underestimated.

Eye floaters are vision spots. They may look like black or gray specks, strings or cobwebs that drift about when a person moves his eyes, and they may appear to dart away when looked at directly.

Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside the eyes becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on the retina, which appear to people as floaters.

 

 

What are the symptoms?

They come in many different shapes: Black or gray dots, squiggly lines, thread-like strands (which can be knobby and almost see-through), cobwebs and rings. Once a person gets them, they usually don’t go away, but they might get better over time as the brain may “adapt.”

Patients with persistent symptoms may have been told to live with it, or had to undergo a vitrectomy. Vitrectomy requires inserting three probes into the eye and removing all of the vitreous gel and replacing it with a saline solution. Because of the known and potentially serious risks, this option is rarely offered or even mentioned.

A non-invasive, painless and less risky alternative is the use of an FDA-approved eye laser to systematically destroy and vaporize the vitreous clumps. This procedure is called laser vitreolysis, and The Eye Centers of Racine and Kenosha were the first practice to introduce this laser procedure to Wisconsin. 

This technology has transformed the lives of thousands of patients in our ophthalmic practice. Dr I Paul Singh has helped developed the protocol for Laser Vitreolysis that has become standard of care around the world.  He is now considered one of the world experts in this procedure.  

Laser Vitreolysis is performed right in the office. It takes an average of 5-10 minutes with no pain, stiches, incision or needles. Immediately prior to treatment, we administer eye drops to prepare the eye and then the laser light is delivered through a specially designed microscope. Patients may leave right after the procedure with no post laser precautions.

Evidence of this can be seen in patient satisfaction rates achieved by practices like ours. Dr. I. Paul Singh and Dr. R. Krishna Sanka have performed more than 1,200 procedures. A study performed within our practice involved 296 eyes of 198 patients aged 38 to 89 years and revealed a 93 percent satisfaction rate following laser vitreolysis. 

Next steps

It is important to have an eye care specialist evaluate you if you suffer from floaters. If the eye is healthy, you don’t have to live with these floaters anymore. Given the impact of symptomatic floaters on quality of daily life, and the relative high safety profile of this procedure, this procedure has truly started to change the standard of care in ophthalmology. 

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