Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Using Lasers to Treat Vitreous Floaters: An Update

Since my first article on the use of a YAG laser to treat floaters (Using Lasers to Treat Vitreous Floaters: Laser Vitreolysis) appeared in this space in August 2010, it has become the most popular/read write-up that I have posted. About 10% of all visitors to my blog come to read that article - and I’ve had over 215,000 unique visitors. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, is there anyone close to where I live that does the procedure? Since I haven’t kept track of who besides the three doctors I featured in that first write-up are now doing the procedure, and since Ellex Medical (Ellex) now produces and markets a specialized laser (the Ultra Q Reflex) specifically to treat floaters, I decided it was time for this update.

As described by Ellex, upon release of their new laser in the Fall of 2012, here are its features:

"Featuring Ellex's proprietary Reflex light delivery system, our ophthalmologist customers can  use the Ultra Q Reflex YAG laser to treat floaters in a medically-reimbursable procedure, known as YAG laser vitreolysis," according to Ellex CEO Tom Spurling.

While there are several YAG lasers on the market, none until now were designed specifically for the treatment of floaters.

"The Ultra Q Reflex is optimized for performing YAG laser treatments both in the anterior segment and posterior segment - making it ideal for the all conventional YAG laser treatments such as capsulotomy and iridotomy, as well as YAG laser vitreolysis for the treatment of floaters," added Mr. Spurling.

Ultra Q Reflex for Nd:YAG Laser Vitreolysis

Floaters (vitreous strands) are small bundles of collagen fibers located in the eye's vitreous, which cast visual shadows that impede quality of vision. Often considered benign, they are a result of degenerative vitreous syndrome (DVS; the natural breakdown and clumping of collagen in the vitreous) and posterior vitreous detachment (PVD; the age-related separation of the vitreous from the retina).

To date, surgical removal of the vitreous (vitrectomy) has been the standard approach to the treatment of floaters. Highly invasive, the procedure carries a significant risk of complications, such as infection, retinal detachment, macular edema, anterior vitreous detachment and residual floaters.

The proprietary slit lamp illumination tower design of the Ultra Q Reflex converges the operator's vision, the target illumination, and the treatment beam onto the same optical path, and focuses them onto the same optical plane as the treatment beam. This minimizes the potential for focusing errors and the risk of damage to the natural lens or the retina -- making the Ultra Q Reflex ideal for the treatment of floaters. In contrast, conventional YAG lasers offer a limited view of the vitreous, which can make it difficult to visualize vitreous strands and opacities.

I contacted Ellex Laser management and requested a list of the U.S. doctors who have purchased this laser and who now use it to treat their patient’s vitreous strands/floaters. The company, in response to my request,  has set up an application on its website, called “Find a Physician”.

By entering your location, a map will appear which will locate doctors near you that have access to this specialized laser and use it to treat vitreous floaters by performing laser vitreolysis. The link to the app is: http://www.floater-vitreolysis.com/find-a-physician/

PS: The app works worldwide!

(As of June 30th, there are 58 physicians across North America, Australia, Asia, and parts of Europe who have decided to be referenced in the physician finder.)

Good luck to all.



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