Floaters are those things you see floating around seemingly in front of your eyes. They look like strings, cobwebs, black or grey specks, or blobs. They drift about when you move your eyes and when you try to focus on them, they seem to drift away.
At Cape Fear Cataract & Cornea, Dr. Groat puts lasers to work evaporating and breaking up floaters, making them less visible to the retina.
What causes floaters?
As with many parts of our bodies, our eyes change with age. In this case, the vitreous changes. The vitreous is the jelly-like substance that fills our eyes. As we age, the vitreous becomes more liquid. This allows microscopic collagen fibers in the vitreous to clump together. It seems as if they are in front of your eye, but actually these clumps and strings of collagen are casting shadows on the retina at the back of the eye. These shadows are the floaters you see.
Who has floaters?
Everyone has at least a few floaters in their vision. But they tend to increase as we age. Studies have shown that about 25 percent of people have changes in their vitreous by age 60, creating more floaters. This percentage rises to over two thirds by age 80. For about one third of people with floaters, they interfere with their daily activities.
When are floaters an issue to address?
Floaters are just a part of being human, particularly an older human. However, a sudden increase in floaters is a reason to see Dr. Groat at Cape Fear immediately, especially if the increased floaters are accompanied by light flashes or if you lose your peripheral vision. This can be a sign of a torn retina and it needs immediate attention to avoid vision loss.
In most cases, however, treating floaters is optional. If they are so prevalent in your field of vision that they are impeding on your life, then it’s time to do something about them.
How is laser floater treatment done?
Dr. Groat performs these procedures. He uses the Ellex Ultra Q Reflex YAG laser, which is designed specifically for treating floaters. This is an outpatient procedure. The first step is to administer eye drops to prepare the eye and to provide mild anesthesia. A contact lens is then placed on your eye.
Dr. Groat delivers the laser light through a specially designed microscope. During the treatment, he aims the laser at the floaters in the vitreous delivering microsecond bursts. The energy breaks up the clump and bands of collagen, evaporating much of the collagen. When this happens you will notice small, dark speck/shadows. These are gas bubbles, and they are a sign that the floaters are being evaporated. These gas bubbles quickly dissolve and resorb into the vitreous.
The procedure takes only 20-60 minutes.
Do you wonder if your floaters are beginning to become problematic? Call Dr. Groat at Cape Fear Cataract & Cornea, (910) 769-4590, and let’s see what’s going on.