Floaterectomy

Floaters are a very common ocular complaint. They are caused by opacities in the vitreous gel which cast shadows on the retina. These are interpreted by the brain as floaters in the vision. As the eye ages these floaters become more prevalent, particularly if the vitreous gel separates completely from the retina (a process called posterior vitreous separation).

A floaterectomy (also known as a Floaters only vitrectomy, or FOV) is a procedure in which the vitreous gel is removed from the eye and replaced with a clear saline fluid. The instruments used are extremely small and therefore the incisions rarely require sutures, resulting in minimal postoperative discomfort.

While floaters can be frustrating they do not actually cause any ongoing structural damage to the eye. The symptoms will also sometimes resolve with watchful waiting. Therefore, floaterectomy surgery, or FOV, is not considered a medically necessary procedure and is not covered by Alberta Health Care.

The surgery is performed at Southern Alberta Eye Centre, and you will not need to stay in the hospital after your surgery. It is recommended that a friend or family member accompany you on the day of your procedure. You will have a patch on the operated eye and will be unable to drive afterwards. The patch will be removed on your post operative day 1 visit with Dr. Mitchell or Dr. Adatia. In almost all cases the surgery is performed using local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia, although general anesthesia is available as an option.

Typically patients are seen 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month following their surgery. During the first two weeks after surgery there are a number of activities that are not recommended. These include driving, any activities requiring lifting more than 10 lbs, or getting water in your eye (including while bathing). Avoid any activities that would require bending at the waist. You should also avoid reading, using computers or mobile devices. Watching TV is ok, provided it is from a distance of 6 feet or more. Activities performed at a distance require far less eye movement or strain compared with activities done within arms length. Traveling by air during the first month after surgery is strongly discouraged. In some circumstances an air bubble may be intentionally left in the eye during the surgery to facilitate healing and in these circumstances air travel is absolutely contraindicated until the air bubble has disappeared.

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