The process called vitreolysis is a non-invasive procedure that can reduce or eliminate the visual disturbance caused by floaters. The procedure is performed in-office and takes only about 10-20 minutes. The procedure is pain free, so no anesthesia is required. You can learn more at www.floater-vitreolysis.com.
What are floaters?
Floaters are located between the lens and the retina. When we are born, the vitreous humor (the gelatinous substance filling the eye) is perfectly transparent. As we age, this vitreous humor degenerates, losing its form and liquefying.
Without the stable vitreous humor, the collagen fibers collapse and bind together to form clumps. It is these fibers that cast shadows on the retina and appear as spots, strings, or cobwebs that are commonly referred to as “floaters.”
As we age further, the vitreous humor separates from the retina entirely. This is known as a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD). PVD is often associated with a sudden increase in the number of floaters. While it is not an emergency, anyone who experiences a sudden increase in floaters should have an eye exam with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to examine the eye for a retinal tear which could lead to retinal detachment and loss of vision.
What can be done?
Until recently, patients suffering from floaters were told they had only two options: learn to deal with them or have a vitrectomy.
A vitrectomy is a highly invasive procedure that has a relatively high incidence of complications ranging from infections to cataract formation or retinal detachment. Correspondingly, ophthalmologists reserved this option for only the most severe cases of floaters leaving most patients left without a viable remedy.
Vitreolysis has changed all of this. We can now use a YAG laser, a laser used in eye surgeries for decades, in a specially designed way to vaporize the vitreous strands and opacities that cause floaters. When approving this procedure, the U.S. Food and Drug administration classified this as a “non-significant risk procedure.” Studies compiled by ophthalmologists after the FDA’s analysis reflect the same conclusion.
Ophthalmologists’ high success rates, combined with the low complication rates, make this procedure a great option for patients suffering from floaters.
How is it done?
First, a complete eye exam is required to assess the health of your eye. Then, the cause of the floater and its location are determined to see whether you would benefit from laser vitreolysis and whether you are a good candidate.
If recommended, the procedure is then scheduled and performed in 10-20 minutes with only dilating drops and numbing drops to prepare your eye. You will not feel the pulses and may actually see the floaters disappearing during the procedure.
We will check the pressure in your eye 30 minutes after the conclusion of the procedure and then you go home.
There is one follow-up exam approximately one month later to ensure that the floaters have disappeared. It sometimes takes more than one session to clear the floaters to an acceptable level. No drops are required after the procedure.
Risks are very rare but have been reported. They include temporary eye pressure elevation and the chance of hitting eye structures such as the lens or retina. This could cause the formation of cataracts or retinal damage. We will go over all possible risks and benefits thoroughly at your evaluation.
What about cost and insurance?
The cost of the exam is $150 and may be covered by health insurance. The cost of Laser Floater Removal is $1699 per eye which covers up to four treatment sessions; however, most people need only one or two treatment sessions to achieve success.
We request payment in full prior to receiving treatment even if you have insurance. Because this is a relatively new procedure, many insurance companies are either unfamiliar with the procedure or will not yet reimburse for it.
After you have completed the treatment, our office will give you the documents needed to submit to your insurance company that will give you the best chance of being reimbursed for the procedure.
If you would like to know whether you will be reimbursed prior to having the treatment, you will need to get a preapproval letter from your insurance company. Our office can assist you with this process by giving you a “medical necessity letter.”
We know dealing with insurance companies can be a bit frustrating at times. If you have any specific questions about payment and cannot get answers from your carrier, please call our office. We’re happy to help you.