"Dr. Tracy, I've got "floaters" -- can they be treated?"

Many people occasionally notice threads or lines moving across their line of vision- “floaters.” They can be distracting, even interfere with performing visual tasks.

Near sighted people tend to see them more often, especially when viewed against a light background like the sky, a light colored wall, or screen.

The cause? Opacities (fibers, remnants of embryonic blood vessels) in the vitreous chamber that cast a shadow on the retina when light enters.

When patients ask if floaters can be treated, my position is — the cure is worse than the disease.

Treatment would involve a vitrectomy — removing the entire vitreous and replacing it with an artificial substance. Complications can arise.

Some patients ask about laser treatments. Most retinal specialists I speak with consider laser treatments for floaters too experimental and risky. That may change in the future.

My advice: unless the floater is debilitating and greatly affecting one’s ability to function, I strongly advise against either a vitrectomy or laser treatment. Time may help: annoying floaters can change postion and be less obvious over time.