Persistent floaters that decrease vision can be removed. A vitrectomy, a retinal eye operation, can be used to successfully remove the vitreous and the “floaters” located within this gel-like tissue.
Most new “spots” or “cob-webs” are due a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). A vitreous detachment increases the risk of a retinal tear and/or retinal detachment. As we have discussed previously, a PVD is a common occurrence (especially as we get older). Patients should be examined when the symptoms of a PVD first appear and then 6 weeks after the symptoms started.
From a medical point of view, if a retinal tear has not occurred at the 6 week point, the patient may not need to return for another exam.
Sometimes, the floaters are so numerous or so large that they are annoying, prevent normal function and may decrease vision. There is hope and there is help.
A vitrectomy can remove most of the vitreous, and thus, remove the vitreous opacities. The vision returns to “normal.”
Vitrectomy eye surgery is routinely performed by retinal specialists. The operation is usually performed for other reasons rather than just opacification or cloudiness of the vitreous. It can be used to repair retinal detachments, macular holes or remove epiretinal membranes, for instance.
Of course, there are risks of vitrectomy surgery. Though very rare, the biggest risks are blindness from infection or retinal detachment.
Some doctors advocate the use of a special laser (YAG laser) to reposition the vitreous within the eye. I personally don’t feel this is a wise choice as there is a chance of causing retinal tears, and possibly, retinal detachment.
What Does This Mean? It is true that most people learn to tolerate small changes in vision. In my practice, I rarely performed a vitrectomy for just floaters while I was in Baltimore. I operate on floaters much more often at my present locations.
Perhaps our tolerance for visual changes is different here.
The point is that, if needed, the surgery can be helpful. It is not a fancy operation, but rather a routine procedure and does not involve new technology.