Worried about eye floaters? Those tiny dots, specks or “wavy lines” in your field of vision can make you wonder if something is going awry with your sight, and their presence can be unnerving or even scary. For the most part, eye floaters don’t require any kind of major medical intervention and are nothing more than a slight annoyance that your brain will adapt to and learn to ignore over time. 

Dr. Carlsson offers these steps that you should take if you’re wondering about treatments for eye floaters. 

Talk to Your Eye Doctor

Although your brain will probably just learn to ignore floaters, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your eye doctor about them. Retinal detachments or tears can be associated with floaters, and those conditions lead to compromised vision or loss of vision—sometimes within 24 hours. Definitely see your “Eye Doctor” right away if your floaters are accompanied by a sudden change in or loss of vision. The same advice applies if your floaters are accompanied by any flashes of light. 

Once your doctor confirms your retina is intact, then it will be time to evaluate whether or not you require surgery for your floaters. In most cases, Dr. Carlsson says he does not recommend surgery, but there are exceptions, including “extensive floaters that are really hindering a patient’s daily lifestyle and their abilities to perform at work and do the things they love to do.” 

Evaluate the Potential Options With Your Eye Care Specialist

Option 1: Observe the floaters over time

Your doctor may recommend that you monitor the floaters together, rather than proceed with a surgical solution right away. Floaters may disappear on their own, or your brain will learn not to be bothered by them. If the floaters get progressively worse, you and your doctor might want to reevaluate and then consider surgery if warranted.

Option 2: Vitrectomy

The primary surgical solution is called a vitrectomy, an invasive procedure in which the eye doctor will remove your vitreous (the gel-like fluid in your eye) and replace it with a saline solution. The vitreous breaks down as we age, and it’s that substance that we’re actually seeing when we see floaters. Removal of the vitreous can remove the floaters. 

Here’s everything you need to know about this treatment option for floaters. 

Are there risks with a vitrectomy?

Although complications are rare, “there is always a risk for complications with any surgery,” Dr. Carlsson says. For that reason, he only recommends vitrectomy for the most severe forms of floaters. 

Some of the potential complications with a vitrectomy include infection, excess bleeding, lens damage, problems with eye movement, or retinal detachment caused by the surgery.  It’s also highly possible and likely that you develop a cataract (a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes opaque, leading to blurred vision) about a year post-surgery.

What can I expect before surgery? 

Your eye care specialist and surgeon will prep you fully for the experience, but here’s a general idea of what you can expect if you opt for a vitrectomy to remove your floaters. 

  • Your doctor will carefully examine your eye and perform any necessary tests. 
  • You’ll need to be in a fasted state for at least 8 hours prior to surgery. If you’re on critical medication (insulin or blood thinners, for example), or have critical medical devices (like a pacemaker), you’ll need to get specific direction from your doctor. 
  • Surgical staff will prep you for your operation and your vital signs will be monitored. You’ll likely have an IV. 
  • You’ll probably be awake and under minimal sedation, rather than general anesthesia, during the surgery. You’ll also receive topical anesthesia to make sure you don’t experience pain during surgery. 

What will the recovery process be like? 

Every patient is different, but most patients can expect minimal pain and discomfort following surgery.  

  • You’ll most likely be able to go home the same day, but should have someone drive you home. 
  • Your eye will be covered with a patch following surgery and you’ll need to wear a patch for at least a day.
  • Your eyelids may temporarily swell and be sore, and you might have bruising and redness around the eye. If you have severe pain, swelling and/or redness, be sure to call your doctor. 
  • Your doctor will give you antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection. 
  • Your doctor will let you know if you need to take any special care with your positioning, such as lying face down. 

Are you experiencing problems with eye floaters? Have us take a look. Contact Carlsson Family Eye Center for an appointment today.