Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
I have many floaters and am considering laser treatment for their removal. What are the pros and cons for this surgery?

Answer:
Floaters are imperfections within the eye. They are collections of tiny fibers and cells that cast a shadow on the retina, especially when looking at a bright plain background — such as a bright blue sky. They tend to move gently on their own or with movements of the eye — hence the name, "floaters." These can be annoying, and there is no good way to be rid of them. There are some who are treating with laser bursts. These bursts tend to break up the floaters. There are few "pros" to such surgery. If you are lucky, the floaters may become small enough to drift out of the line of sight. The "cons" are many. The floaters may be made worse because there are more of them, or your surgeon may not be able to find the ones that bother you most. More importantly, you will have the risk of retinal tears, retinal swelling or edema, and even retinal detachment. Glaucoma, or too much pressure in the eye, is also possible. These conditions can be blinding, although generally these conditions are treatable. There are very few retinal surgeons who perform this procedure for the reasons mentioned above.

Answered by: Ivan Schwab, MDDr. Ivan Schwab

Categories: Eye Conditions, Eye Surgery

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Answered: Nov 29, 2010

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