Yag laser treatment for eye floaters

Updated April 17, 2017

Eye floaters aren't commonly dangerous, and are usually mild and fleeting, although in some cases, they can debilitate one's vision. YAG laser treatment can effectively rid floaters, though it's only offered by a handful of surgeons in the U.S., according to the USA Today article "Treatment of eye floaters ignites debate" by Matthew Barakat.


Floaters cause blurry spots or "fuzzballs" that float in the vision of one, or sometimes both, eyes. These vision spots are present because of dislodged deposits, usually harmless, in the eye's vitreous jelly.


Barakat's USA Today article on floaters says that the majority of adults have, have had, or will develop floaters at some point, especially with age and myopic vision. Shapes and sizes differ. Virginian surgeon Dr. John R. Karickhoff, (contributor for Barakat's article, and author of his own report on Ocular Surgery News) estimates that only about 5 per cent of floater conditions require treatment.

YAG Laser Technology

YAG (Yttrium-Aluminum Garnet) lasers are able to precisely target the floater with pinpoint high-energy beams that either destroy the floater with vaporisation, thin the floater, or relocate the floater outside of the visual field.


YAG treatment requires no surgical incisions, unlike vitrectomy procedures, which used to be the only treatment option, and pose high risk of cataract development. Dr. Karickhoff reports that YAG lasers are safer, faster (20-minute procedure with less than 24 hours of recovery), and more cost-effective than vitrectomy.


Patients who contributed to Barakat's USA Today article said that the laser procedure was a success, free of complications and side effects. Dr. Karickhoff has performed the YAG treatment on over 1,400 patients and reports a 92 per cent success rate, noting that in unsuccessful cases, no harm was done.


Some ophthalmologists believe YAG lasers can cause retinal detachment. Dr. Karickhoff claims that he has never heard of one case of retinal detachment resulting from laser treatment. Another misconception, according to the Ocular Surgery News article, is the assumption that the laser breaks the floater into pieces, when, in fact, it destroys it..

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About the Author

Isobel Washington has been a freelance journalist since 2007. Washington's work first surfaced in Europe, where she served as a restaurant critic and journalist for "LifeStyles" magazine. Her love of travel and culture inspired her first novel, which is currently underway. Washington has a 10-year career in marketing communication and holds a Bachelor of Science degree.