Also known as floater laser removal, laser vitreolysis is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure that can eliminate the visual disturbance caused by floaters. It is performed in our clinic using a specially adapted YAG laser. Treatment sessions typically last 20-30 minutes. On average, patients will require two treatment sessions to achieve a satisfactory result.
The goal of vitreolysis is to achieve a “functional improvement”. That is, to allow you to return to “normal” day-to-day activities without the hindrance of floaters.
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, eyedrops are instilled to fully dilate the pupil and anesthetise the surface of the eye. 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 gel.
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.
What to expect after treatment?
You may observe small, dark specks in your lower field of vision immediately following treatment, but these small gas bubbles will quickly dissolve and will not impede vision.
It is also important to note that some patients may experience mild discomfort, redness or temporarily blurred vision directly following treatment.
Complications and side effects
Reported side effects and complications associated with vitreolysis are rare. Side effects may include cataract and high pressure in the eye, usually temporary.
Who will benefit from vitreolysis?
While some floaters can be effectively treated, several floater types are difficult to treat and/or less likely to regress than others. To that end, it is necessary to first undergo an ophthalmic examination in order to determine your eligibility for vitreolysis treatment.
Generally-speaking, if you suffer from persistent moving shadows in your vision due to vitreal condensations, fibers, strands, and/or clouds, you are a good candidate for vitreolysis.
A number of factors, such as age, onset of symptoms and floater characteristics, will also determine whether vitreolysis is your best treatment option.