Vitreolysis is a non-invasive laser procedure with the application of nanosecond pulses to treat floaters that are visually-disturbing and persistent. Floaters take on many shapes and forms. They may be diffuse and cloud-like, or they may appear as dense strand-like (cobweb) floaters which result from the clumping of the collagen fibres of the vitreous. Sudden onset of floaters may be associated with a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) where the vitreous humour of the eye peels away from the retina.
The vitreolysis process is relatively pain-free and involves the use of nanosecond pulses of laser beams to break up the vitreous opacities and vitreous strands. The collagen and hyaluronin molecules of the vitreous opacities and strands are converted to gas during the process, with the floaters removed or reduced to a size that no longer impedes vision. During the treatment, patients may observe small dark specks or shadows, indicating that the floaters are being evaporated and converted into small gas bubbles. These gas bubbles quickly dissolve and resorb into the vitreous.
Complications and side effects associated with vitreolysis are rare. Reported side effects include intraocular pressure spike, cataract development and retinal changes. Some patients may experience mild discomfort, redness or transient blurred vision directly following the treatment.
Vitreolysis can be successfully performed to treat different types of floaters however patients will require a comprehensive eye examination to determine their suitability for vitreolysis treatment. There are a few factors to consider such as age, onset of symptoms, and characteristics of the floaters. Improvement following the procedure may take time and often more than one treatment is required. Some patients may require subsequent vitreolysis treatments if they have large, dense floaters impeding their vision. If the floaters persist, other options such as vitrectomy may be considered.