Practice Introduction & FAQs
New eye floaters? Just starting out? Confused? Were you told 'Nothing can be done" or "You'll just have to learn to live with it"?
Welcome to the community of frustrated vitreous eye floater sufferers. Maybe your local eye care provider wasn't much help and you landed here as a result of your own research.
THE GOOD NEWS...
In the hands and good judgment of an experienced floater specialist, there are safe and effective options to improve your problems with eye floaters. Dr. James Johnson is 'The Floater Doctor' and since 2007 he has dedicated his medical practice exclusively to the treatment of eye floaters. The practice is primarily YAG laser-based treatments, but now we offer a pharmaceutical product that can help younger patients typically not candidates for laser treatment. This page is a broad overview. More details are within this web site (main page HERE) and our YouTube channel.
DO YOU HAVE EYE FLOATERS?
Eye floaters don't 'float', but they are usually native collagen proteins suspended in the vitreous gel/fluid in the back of the eye. Ideally, that gel is optically clear. With time and age (and other factors not well understood in younger patients) those proteins can clump, aggregate, shift and become optically dense objects that move around in your vision. Essentially ANY moving shadows, densities, or blurry clouds that move around in your vision with head and eye movement are vitreous floaters.
ARE FLOATERS DANGEROUS?
There are some rare and occasional causes of floaters associated with retinal holes, tears and other retinal disorders - those can be vision threatening. It is a good idea to get a dilated eye exam locally to rule out retinal problems. If that checks out 'OK', then floaters are usually considered benign and normal aging changes and the doctors lose interest real fast.
BENIGN? ARE YOU SERIOUS? THIS IS HORRIBLE!
Yes, I agree. In addition to vision complaints there is a lot of anxiety and depression that accompanies eye floaters. Treating eye floaters not only improves the quality of vision, but maybe more importantly, improves the quality of life and the mental health that suffers from the presence of these so-called 'benign' proteins trapped in the eye with no where to go.
MY DOCTOR SAID THEY WILL GO AWAY. WILL THEY?
Ah yes. It's right out of the "I can't treat you so offer some vague hope" medical playbook. I hear it all the time. It is possible in the first days or few weeks for floaters to shift away from the retina. But if it has been several or more weeks, they are not likely to improve. There is no filter or drainage mechanism for these floaters to escape the back of the eye. These false reassurances are common but not true.
WILL INSURANCE PAY? HOW MUCH DOES COST?
Here's the short version: Insurance usually will not pay for the treatment of eye floaters even though this procedure has been around for over 25 years. Sorry. My practice is fee-for-service. I do provide a detail receipt with dates, codes, etc., that can be submitted to your insurer for possible reimbursement. You could always contact your insurer to see if they will reimburse your expenses. That information and codes can be found HERE.
As far as anticipated expenses, it is based on the procedures and it almost always requires more than one treatment in an eye and more if things are very extensive and complex. Ballpark? About $2000-$2500 total for 2-3 treatments to an eye. Details are HERE.
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED?
We are in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area in Texas. Convenient to DAL and DFW airports. Most of our patients travel from other states and internationally to seek treatment with Dr. Johnson because of his extensive experience in treating eye floaters. It is all he has done since 2007.
IS THERE SOMEONE CLOSER TO ME? IT IS NOT CONVENIENT TO GO TO TEXAS.
This is such an important topic. Here is the short version: A laser manufacturer has been promoting their laser as a "Floater Treatment Laser" to doctors and implying that if they buy their laser, they too can treat eye floaters. It is a misrepresentation. The laser does not treat floaters, the doctor treats the floaters. The laser is just a tool. Yes, they can buy the laser, but what they can't buy is hard earned experience over time. They take delivery of the laser, but there is educational course, training, certification, wet lab, or even a model eye to practice on.
There are real risks to going to your local ophthalmologist who claims to treat eye floaters. Most often the feedback I hear is that the treatments did not improve their condition and the patient and doctor conclude that maybe the laser just doesn't work for them and it all stops right there. I have seen these patients and treated them very successfully. I have also seen injuries caused by well-intentioned but inexperienced eye doctors such as cataracts (direct injury from the laser) and loss of vision (by mis-managing a very manageable elevation of eye pressure). Loss of vision should never have happened and it has never happened in my practice. I was an expert witness in this case and it angers me still. More on this topic HERE.
HOW DO I PLAN? HOW DO I SCHEDULE?
Scheduling is done online on the web site HERE.
Treatment of one can be done on the same day as the initial consultation/evaluation as well as on consecutive days. I can treat both eyes on day #2, #3, etc., just not on the first visit. It is hard to make absolute recommendations, or to know in advance if you are even a candidate for treatment at all. You you might schedule at least 2, preferable three consecutive days if planning to treat one eye, maybe an extra day for both eyes.
AM I A CANDIDATE FOR TREATMENT? CAN I FIND OUT BEFORE TRAVELING TO SEE YOU?
I have not found the local doctor's notes to be very helpful. The best predictor of candidacy for treatment is the patient's age. Floaters developing or significantly worsening over the age of 45-50 yrs of age will likely be treatable, those younger patients in their 20's to 30's are rarely good candidates for treatment with the laser. The in-between group is 'in-between'.
LASER TREATMENT: IS IT PAINFUL? WHATS THE RECOVERY?
The YAG laser is delivering very light energy to inert proteins in a fluid. There no expectation for pain and no healing or inflammation after the procedure. There are no restrictions after treatment/ no patching/ no drops. It is very well tolerated and procedures can be done on consecutive days. Results are pretty immediate, but it does usually take more than once session to get to a desire endpoint.
I AM IN MY 20'S (OR 30'S). CAN ANYTHING BE DONE?
The good news is that mild, custom-compounded pupil dilating agent (ah'-truh-peen) is a long lasting, eye drop medication can be very helpful (and is essentially zero-risk) to reduce the awareness of the shadows caused by those microscopic floaters that usually sit VERY close to the retina in younger people. I offer a tele-medicine video consultation with mailing the custom compounded eyedrops right to your mailbox (US residents only). It has been really successful. More about pupil dilation for eye floaters HERE.