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Is there an effective treatment for eye floaters?

opthalmologist discussing eye floaters treatment with patient

Eye floaters are those annoying spots, rings or lines that float across your field of view. Though they appear to drift in front of your eyes, floaters are actually located in the gel-like substance called the vitreous that fills the back of the eyeball.

How do you treat eye floaters? Most floaters are benign, meaning they are okay to ignore. However, some floaters can be a symptom of a current or impending retinal detachment and need to be evaluated immediately by an eye doctor.

Effective treatment options for eye floaters include surgery and laser treatment.

Surgery for floaters

If you are bothered by large, persistent eye floaters, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy can be performed. During the procedure, the vitreous is removed through a small incision and replaced with a solution which helps the eye keep its round shape. 

It is important to note, however, that a vitrectomy may not remove 100% of eye floaters, and it is possible that floaters may develop again after surgery. There are also risks associated with vitrectomies, including retinal tears and bleeding.

Laser treatment for floaters

A laser procedure called YAG laser vitreolysis. (“YAG” refers to the components of the crystal that creates the infrared beam of the laser: yttrium, aluminum and garnet.)

This procedure is less invasive than a vitrectomy and can be performed in a few minutes in an ophthalmologist's office. The patient’s pupil is dilated, and the laser beam is directed at individual floaters to break them up and vaporize them.

Research has shown YAG laser vitreolysis is safe and effective in the hands of a skilled surgeon. In a recent study of 32 patients who underwent the floater treatment procedure, there was a reduction of floaters in 93.7% of study eyes (partial improvement in 37.5% and total improvement in 56.2%), and there was no recurrence of floaters, loss of vision or other adverse events observed during the follow-up period.  

No medical treatment is required for mild cases

For benign cases of floaters, no medical treatment is needed. Over time, most floaters will move out of your field of view, which makes them less bothersome.

SEE RELATED: Eye floaters may go away on their own

Can you treat floaters with eye drops or medicine?

There are some claims that medicine, eye drops and natural treatments can benefit those with eye floaters, but these are not medically proven. 

Some supplements may help with overall eye health, however, including omega-3 essential fatty acids and vitamin A. 

SEE RELATED: How to choose eye and vision supplements

Takeaway

Most eye floaters are harmless, but some can be a sign of an underlying condition. If floaters appear suddenly, are accompanied by flashes of light or interfere with your vision, see an eye doctor immediately to determine the cause of your floaters and if treatment is needed.

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Gary Heiting, OD

Gary Heiting, OD, is a former senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 30 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear ... Read more