Laser procedure a possible treatment for eye floaters

In the journals

A common laser treatment may help people with a specific type of eye floater, according to a small study published online July 20, 2017, by JAMA Ophthalmology. Floaters are spots in your vision like black or gray specks, strings, flying bugs, or cobwebs. They become more prevalent with age and occur when the jelly-like substance inside the eyes becomes more liquid, shrinks, and separates from the back wall of the eye.

There are three treatments for floaters: observation, where a floater is monitored for changes (for instance, if it moves away from your central vision or the brain adapts and ignores it); vitrectomy surgery to remove the floater; and YAG vitreolysis, which vaporizes the floater with a laser.

Researchers assigned 52 patients with a Weiss ring floater — a larger round floater that makes it look like a bug flying around your face — to receive a single treatment of YAG laser vitreolysis or a placebo laser treatment in one eye. Most people in the YAG group noted some improvement in their floater symptoms after a few days, which was maintained for six months. Although there were no significant side effects, YAG laser vitreolysis carries the same risks as vitrectomy surgery, such as retinal detachment and tears, cataract formation, retinal damage, and glaucoma. The researchers noted that more research is needed to determine the effect of YAG laser vitreolysis on other types of floaters and the likelihood of side effects.