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Most people have them – the annoying little cells that drift through one’s field of vision. Known commonly as “floaters,” they are pieces of the vitreous shrinking as a person ages. Even though they grow more common as one grows older, most people can easily ignore them. For others, however, they can become a serious nuisance that affects quality of life.

A Wisconsin ophthalmologist has treated hundreds of patients for extremely large floaters with laser surgery – and the results prove it is safe, according to his presentation at the 121st annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology today.

“The procedure and new technique is slowly growing in acceptance, and an increasing number of ophthalmologists are adopting it in Europe and the U.S.,” said Inder Paul Singh, of the Eye Centers of Racine and Kenosha, according to an AAO announcement. “We have also founded the International Ophthalmic Floater Society, which is open to ophthalmologists worldwide.”

The results: Singh has treated 680 patients with 1,272 procedures. (the equipment used was the Elle Ultra Q Reflex YAG laser, made in Australia). The eye doctor monitored the patients' progress from anywhere from one to four years.

Only 10 patients – less than one percent of the group – had a complication, according to Singh.

The most common of those complications (seven cases) was increased intraocular pressure, which was treated with an antihypertensive eyedrop solution, according to the AAO. Two cases of phakic lens hit (acccidentally hitting an implantable lens) and one reinal hemorrhade were also reported, according to the research abstract.

Laser treatment for breaking up large floaters into smaller, and less annoying, fragments first was accomplished back in the 1980s, according to the literature. However, the technology was not as apt to identify floaters, so there were reports of accidental damage to the lens or retina, instead of the destruction of the rogue cells.

But the technology has improved to the point that floater zapping could “become a mainstream procedure in ophthalmology,” according to Singh’s presentation.

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