Eye floaters can be a pesky nuisance impacting everyday life. In some cases, eye floaters can negatively impact vision due to their size and location in the eye.
Whether you find them debilitating or merely annoying, you can choose to do something about them. There are three main options for treating eye floaters.
You may decide to try to live with eye floaters. You may learn to ignore them, but they can continue to worsen over time and impact your quality of life.
You may opt for vitrectomy surgery. This is the most invasive option and carries a relatively high risk of complications.
Lastly, you may opt for a laser floater removal/laser vitreolysis procedure. This is considered a low-risk procedure.
Living with eye floaters
Living and observing eye floaters for a period of time is usually the first course of action for most patients. Floaters can become less noticeable over time, and can sometimes decrease in size, but they will always be there. Many doctors recommend waiting at least 6 months to see if the condition improves on its own before making the choice of a more invasive eye procedure.
However, it is important to remember that floaters that occur with a sudden bright flash can be caused by posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), the detachment of the vitreous from the retina. If you experience a large number of floaters at once, or floaters accompanied by a bright flash of light, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Pros of living with eye floaters: Non-invasive, condition may become less noticeable over time.
Cons of living with eye floaters: Will not eliminate eye floaters over time.
The next option is vitrectomy. Vitrectomy is a surgical removal of the central vitreous, and sometimes requires a longer recovery time than less invasive procedures. Vitrectomy surgery has improved in the past several years, and doctors are now able to use smaller surgical instruments to enter the eye through much smaller incisions. However, the risks of this procedure still include cataract progression, retinal detachment, and infection.
Patients should be fully informed of the potential risks before choosing this treatment. This option may be best for patients who have already had cataract surgery, and it is the only treatment available for some cases of eye floaters that do not respond well to less invasive options. Only a doctor can assess potential risk factors and recommend the best treatment option for your unique case.
Pros of vitrectomy: Vitrectomy is an outpatient surgery that takes less than 20 minutes, and advances in technology have made the procedure safer over time.
Cons of vitrectomy: Higher-risk procedure. Recovery can take longer and be uncomfortable, and there are risks of developing cataracts, retinal detachment, and infection.
Laser floater removal/Laser vitreolysis
An alternative treatment for floater removal is laser floater removal, or laser vitreolysis. Laser vitreolysis is a course of treatment for patients whose eye floaters are causing a reduced quality of life. In this low-risk procedure, a YAG laser is used to vaporize eye floaters and break them into smaller, less noticeable pieces.
Laser Vitreolysis is especially helpful in treating large eye floaters that are caught in the center of the eye’s visual axis, as vaporizing the large pieces can help treat vision problems associated with the floaters. Laser treatment can delay or eliminate the need for a vitrectomy in many patients, but Laser vitreolysis may not be an option for certain types of eye floaters.
Pros of laser vitreolysis: Low-risk procedure that can treat and remove eye floaters, fewer risks and shorter recovery time than a vitrectomy.
Cons of laser vitreolysis: Sometimes requires multiple sessions to remove eye floaters.
Eye floater treatment: the bottom line
The best treatment plan for you will depend on the type and severity of your eye floaters, your age and previous eye conditions, your doctor’s recommendation, and your comfort level.