Chronic floaters that interfere with activities of daily life can be treated with laser or surgical floater removal.
It is common to experience floaters throughout life, typically worsening between the ages of 50 and 70. Most patients find that their floaters improve over time without a significant hindrance to vision.
A minority of patients, however, experience significant distraction and visual interference from their floaters. For these cases, there are two options for treatment, each with its own risk and benefit profile.
Laser floater removal is one option. The advantages of this procedure are that it takes place in the clinic and is non-invasive. The floater laser works particularly well for large, discrete floaters that vaporize as they absorb the laser light energy. Patients who undergo the laser can expect a significant reduction, but not complete elimination of their discrete floaters. The risks of the laser are small, including rare cases of cataract or retinal hemorrhage.
Surgical removal of the floaters, called vitrectomy [link here], is another option. The advantage of surgical removal is that floaters are completely and permanently resolved after surgery. Vitrectomy surgery works particularly well for multiple, diffuse, or cloudy floaters. The downsides of surgery include the progression of cataracts and a 1% risk for retinal detachment.
The decision for how and when to treat floaters should be made in consultation with an ophthalmologist specialized in retinas and experienced with both the surgical and clinical floater removal procedures.