Floaters are small undissolved particles in the vitreous gel of the eye.

The eye is a ball, and the biggest volume is formed by the dense gel that fills the back of the eye. In children and young adults this gel is very dense, but with age sineresis occurs. The gel starts to break down after the age of 45 years: the gel volume decreases, and the liquid volume increases significantly. Large pockets of vitreous liquid forms, known as lacunae.

The loss of volume in the vitreous results in a detachment of the vitreous gel from the retina. This is known as a PVD or posterior vitreous detachment. Floaters are the most common complaint experienced by patients. Floaters are caused by condensed vitreous fibers. Floaters move during the displacement of the vitreous with eye movements, and they cast a shadow on the retina. This is often perceived as a grey “hair-like” or “fly-like” structure, that moves with eye movement.

Laser floater treatment, or vitreolysis, involves the vaporization of the floaters with a specific double-frequency YAG laser. The laser vaporizes the collagen fibers resulting in the formation of small plasma gas bubbles that gets absorbed by the eye. Smaller particles float out of the central vision and are therefore not of any significance. The YAG laser that is used to treat floaters are specific in that it uses very small amounts of energy and allows the treatment of floaters that occur far in the back of the eye. More than one treatment is sometimes necessary to treat all the floaters.

The procedure is done in the rooms, and it is completely painless. No treatment is necessary after the procedure. The pupils are however dilated in order to permit a good view of the floaters, and therefore it is essential that the patient arranges for a driver to take them home.