Take a good look at this sentence on your screen. Now look up at a blank wall. If you see spots, squiggles, or amoeba-like thingies suspended in the air or floating by, you’ve probably got eye floaters. The Mayo Clinic describes them as shadows from light hitting tiny clumps that form in the gelatinous “body” of your eye. Although they’re usually not serious, eye floaters can be seriously annoying, especially for the following people:
- People who’ve had cataract surgery
- People who are very nearsighted
- People over the age of 50
Now there’s hope on the horizon thanks to a new laser treatment, according to new research presented at AAO 2017, the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology. The treatment is known as YAG laser vitreolysis.
In the first trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of YAG laser vitreolysis, the researchers, ophthalmologists Jayanth S. Sridhar, MD and Carl J. Danzig, MD recruited 52 volunteers who experienced eye floaters. The doctors administered the actual procedure to 36 of the patients, while the rest got a “sham” procedure. Six months later, the researchers found that procedure cleared up the floaters for the most part; the sham group had no change.
While the YAG laser vitreolysis shows great promise—there were no complications from the treatment—the study was small with a follow-up limited to six months. The next steps are a bigger study with a longer term follow-up to rule out potential problems like retinal detachment. In addition, this study only allowed one treatment session; in clinical practice, it may require more than a single laser session to adequately address the patient’s floaters, once and for all. Find out more about what causes eye floaters in the first place.