YAG Laser Vitreolysis

Treating Floaters with YAG Laser Vitreolysis

Many people suffer from vitreous floaters, while benign in nature they can become quite frustrating and troublesome. Eye floaters can be clumpy or stringy; light or dark – they are caused by clumps or specks of undissolved vitreous gel floating in the dissolved gel-like fluid (vitreous) in the back of the eye, which then casts a shadow on the retina when light enters the eye. Taking the concerns of patients seriously, and treating them with either YAG laser vitreolysis or floater only pars plana vitrectomy, can make a significant improvement to their everyday quality of sight.

Though not new, YAG laser vitreolysis has advance to a degree that allows the successful relief of symptoms from troublesome floaters in many patients. The inability to superimpose the illuminating light source of the laser with the path of the laser beam has been a problem. The goal of treatment is to disrupt floaters into smaller fragments rather than vaporize them. However, a new design to the YAG laser, developed by Ellex in Australia, has combated this issue by allowing superimposition of the viewing, lighting and treating axes. The YAG laser causes optical breakdown of vitreous opacities converting them to gas which leaves the eye via the retinal venous vasculature. If remnants of the posterior capsule following capsulotomy are hit by a YAG laser, they fragment rather than vaporize. This is seen with direct visualisation as a solid chunk of matter becoming a gas bubble and rising in the vitreous cavity.

How the Procedure is Performed:

The pupil needs to be maximally dilated. Topical anaesthesia is used to allow a contact lens to be placed on the eye but the procedure itself is painless. No sedation is necessary. Generally, it takes about 10-15 minutes. There are no known long term risks with the YAG laser vitreolysis, however it is possible to damage the crystalline lens (causing an instant cataract), hit the retina (causing a retinal burn) or cause a rise in intraocular pressure.

If you suffer from floaters, we encourage you to come in for an assessment and speak to one of our highly trained professionals to determine if you are suitable for the treatment.

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