top of page

Pathological vs. Non-pathological Eye Floaters

Eye floaters are dark-colored specks in your vision caused by loose collagen fibers drifting around the vitreous humor of the eye. They can be caused by a number of reasons:

  • Aging

  • Eye inflammation

  • Eye trauma

  • Macular degeneration

  • Retinal detachment

  • Underlying conditions such as diabetes

  • Eye tumors

  • Previous eye surgery and medication


Given this, some floaters are caused by pathological conditions such as autoimmune disorders, infections, diabetes, and hemorrhage. To get rid of these floaters, treatment should be directed at the underlying disease or disorder. Treatment for eye floaters that have an underlying pathological cause is not within the scope of this practice or website.

The remainder of floaters is generally benign in the sense that they are not the result of a disease. These floaters are typically caused by the aging process. Nevertheless, they are not so benign when you factor in the devastating effect of floaters on a person’s vision and quality of life. 


Treating these non-pathological eye floaters is what The Floater Doctor specializes in!

Eye Floater Treatment Options

There is no one-size-fits-all eye floaters cure. Your eye doctor will have to determine the cause of the floaters, their severity, and your health status before recommending an individualized plan of treatment.


To prepare you for your consultation, here are some treatment options you can expect:


Option 1: Do Nothing

ScreenShot547 2019-10-17 15.30.jpg

Surgeon's view of vitrectomy

In actuality, this is the most common recommendation to people suffering from eye floaters. As long as the floaters are not pathological in origin, the presence of floaters is not considered a harmful eye health issue. Floaters can go away on their own over time, and can generally be left alone. 


For people who are not candidates for the laser treatment, and for which the invasive surgery we will discuss below is not indicated, this may be their only choice. However, if the floaters in your vision are becoming a nuisance to daily life, it’s best that you talk to an eye doctor to determine the best course of action.

Option 2: YAG Laser Vitreolysis

YAG laser treatment, or vitreous floaters laser treatment, has been around for about 20 years. It uses neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) laser technology to break down floaters in the eye. YAG laser treatment is a highly specialized procedure to perform. Even after two decades, there are just a few ophthalmologists with any significant experience treating floaters. 


Not all floaters can be treated and the indication and ability to treat depends primarily on the location of the floaters as well as other characteristics of the eye. This is the procedure offered at our office and our area of particular expertise.


To be considered as a candidate for YAG laser treatment, certain conditions must be met. A good candidate is someone who has had significantly bothersome eye floaters for at least one month. The presence of a posterior vitreous detachment (which occurs when the vitreous humor of the eye shrinks and pulls on the connective tissue on the back of the eye) is not necessary, but it is a common cause or precursor to new-onset floaters.  

However, not everyone is a good candidate for YAG laser treatment. Laser treatment may not be as effective on patients with significant corneal scars or those with a history of corneal refractive surgery such as LASIK, PRK, and RK, as the changes may interfere with the laser beam and prevent it from breaking down the floaters adequately.


The same is true for cataract, or other conditions that could hinder precision in hitting the floaters.


Patients with active eye inflammation or edema may be asked to wait for the condition to resolve before receiving YAG laser treatment. 

Finally, patients should not have other eye pathologies like active retinal tears or retinal detachment (which occurs when the retinal surface separates from the wall of the eye).

Option 3: Floater-Only Vitrectomy (FOV)

A surgical vitrectomy involves general anesthesia or deep monitored sedation in a surgical center or hospital. A retinal surgeon will make three tiny incisions into the whites of the eye and insert three instruments to remove all or a good portion of the vitreous humor. The removed vitreous is replaced with a saline water solution.


As the vitrectomy removes the vitreous humor entirely, you can expect to remove most if not all of the floaters. However, as the procedure is invasive and involves removing part of the eye, it comes with greater relative risk.


The commonly noted risks of vitrectomy are cataract formation within the first year. In addition there are more rare incidences of retinal detachment, eye pressure fluctuations, and chronic retinal swelling amongst others.


Because of these risks, the retina specialists who perform the procedure are generally reluctant to perform a vitrectomy only for floaters, even if the patient desires one. This treatment may be a theoretical option rather than a realistic or practical one, because of the general lack of availability in finding doctors willing to perform the procedure.

Option 4: Mild Pupil Dilating (0.01%) Eye Drops

AtropSulfate is a pupil dilating agent that at its full 1% strength can dilate the pupil to its maximum and may last 1-2 weeks or longer. I's only use is for specialized testing in pediatric eye clinics. It has been around over 100 Years in ophthalmology. At the 100X diluted strength (0.01%), it only mildly dilated the pupil and avoids the extreme sensitivity to light, the blurred vision, and the loss of focusing power. It does decrease the awareness of the shadows cast onto the retina - that is, the floaters that you see. It is a nice alternative option for the typical younger patients who would not be a good candidate for laser treatment, but the older patients treated or untreated may also benefit. More here....
Are There Alternative Therapy Treatments for Eye Floaters?

Alternative therapy recommends taking supplements or changing your diet to prevent a buildup of toxic waste inside the body. A common suggestion is eating pineapple or taking bromelain enzyme supplements based on a poorly-designed study out of Taiwan. However, floaters aren’t the result of poor diet or lack of vitamins and minerals. In short, herbal or alternative remedies won’t do a thing for your eye floaters.

Eye Floater Doctor in Dallas-Ft. Worth area of Texas

If you’re concerned about the floaters disrupting your vision and getting in the way of normal, daily activities, it’s best to have a specialist look at your eye.


We have years of experience and are currently the only practice exclusively treating eye floaters. For more information, call The Floater Doctor today!

Suggested next topic

bottom of page