Also read the results of our online survey. Patients were asked about their experience with the floater laser treatment.
The 67-year-old Ton Reuvers, born in the Netherlands had been living in Canada for the past 46 years where he worked as “Environmental Manager” before his retirement, He had been suffering from “floaters” for over a year. The complaints became so disturbing that a vitreous operation (vitrectomy) was considered. Because he thought that was too much, Mr. Reuvers went looking for alternative treatment options. They did not appear to be offered in Canada. Through a patient forum on the internet (www.floaterlaser.nl) he ended up with ophthalmologist Feike Gerbrandy.
“My Dutch descent and the excellent reputation of Eye Clinic Zonnestraal made it attractive to receive treatment in the Netherlands. We decided to mix “business” with pleasure and extended our stay to visit family. Partly because the treatments at Eye Clinic Zonnestraal in Lelystad ran so smoothly, we can look back on a very pleasant stay in the Netherlands.”
Can you describe the complaints you experienced?
Reuvers: “My vision was troubled by a dark web and ring-shaped fragments, and some kind of clouds that constantly drifted across my vision. It was annoying when reading, using the computer and driving my car.”
How did you experience the treatment?
Reuvers: “I had read up in advance and therefore the treatment didn’t hold any surprises for me. The treatment itself was painless and lasted about 30 minutes per treatment due to the large number of floaters. I could notice the difference as soon as the effects of the anesthetic drops had worn off.”
“Mr. Reuvers was greatly bothered by his complaints. He scored an 8 on the so-called Severity Scale, a complaint rate from 1 to 10 (1 standing for no trouble, 10 for extreme trouble). After 1 laser treatment his score was down to 4 and he was treated a second time. After the second treatment his score was as low as 2,5. This is a good result.”
Gerbrandy on the technique: “Floater laser is a difficult technique to master. I have applied this technique for one and a half year now and the results keep getting better. On average, 92% of the treated patients experience so much improvement that they are no longer suffering.
About 5% of the laser-treated patients do not recover adequately and have to get surgery after all. Usually the cause lies in the floaters being too extensive or out of range for the laser. A floater laser holds far lower risks and complication rates than surgery. Unlike during surgery, the eye is not opened during a laser treatment, excluding the chance of infection. The chance of cataract is very small (<0.5% in contrast to almost 100% after surgery). The chance of retinal detachment is nil, while it can rise to 9% after surgery.
Moreover, the recovery period is negligible: except for driving a car for the first few hours after treatment, patients will be able to function fully immediately. These advantages are sufficient reason for floater laser to be the treatment of first choice in case of bothersome vitreous floaters. In those cases this is not possible, surgery is a considerable option”, says Gerbrandy.
How do patients find you?
“Patiënten from all over the world find me through patient forums such as www.floaterforum.nl, www.glasvochttroebe.forum2go.nl, www.floaterlaser.nl and, like Mer. Reuvers mentioned, through firstname.lastname@example.org. All emails with information requests will be answered by me personally.
What exactly are “floaters”?
In the center of the eye in between eye and retina you will find vitreous fluid. 98% of this consists of water, the rest is mostly protein. This protein may form strings or lumps that may obstruct vision. There are different terms for these spots (vitreous floaters, mouches volantes or floaters). A floater is a haze within the eye, projected onto the retina like a shadow.
People experience their floaters as moving hazy spots within the observed image. The complaints may be troubling enough to consider removing the floaters by means of surgery or a – less burdensome – YAG laser treatment.
How does treatment work?
The patient is placed in sitting position, chin and forehead leaning against a support, similar to the setting for an eye test. The ophthalmologist then uses a lens to view the area to be treated and removes the floaters. Because the eye is anaesthetised with eye drops, the patient does not feel a thing. The laser treatment takes place in an outpatient manner and will take from 10 to 30 minutes. Usually the floaters cannot be removed in one go, so follow-up treatment (sometimes more than once) will have to be scheduled.
In some instances new floaters may emerge, which can be treated again.
To conclude with Mr. Reuvers, from Canada:
“I am satisfied with the result, the treatment has caused a considerable improvement of my quality of life. I wholeheartedly commend ophthalmologist Gerbrandy and his team: “I am very glad he has managed to free me of my symptoms entirely with this technique. “
The story of a patient who was faced with eye floaters after a car crash, and who feels reborn after successful floater laser treatment:
Following a car crash in July 2007, I was faced with vitreous floaters. My ophthalmologist told me I would just have to learn to live with it: “After a while you’ll be used to them and you’ll hardly even notice them, if at all”, he said.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work out for me, it drove me “nuts”. Two consultations with other ophthalmologists did not really get me anywhere either: a vitrectomy was a possibility except that I only have 1 functioning eye, as there is always the possibility of something going wrong. In other words: I just had to learn to live with it…
The mouches impacted my entire wellbeing: I became grumpy, listless and would turn in every night at around 9PM. Often I literally couldn’t see a way out!
Beginning of February 2007, I came across an article on Dr. feike Gerbrandy from eye clinic Zonnestraal in Hilversum: on February 18th he would hold a lecture with the title “YAG floater laser is effective and safe enough to be the treatment of first choice for vitreous floaters”.
I reached out to him by email right away, which went so smooth and easy I instantly made an appointment. On March 10 and 28 I underwent YAG laser treatment with great result! Although not all floaters have gone, I feel reborn! The floaters that are still there may be able to be treated as well, as Dr. Gerbrandy intends to acquire another YAG laser device which may also be able to reach floaters that are quite deep inside the vitreous fluid. As soon as this device gets there, I will be there too.”
PP (Johann Schmid)
Letter from a grateful patient from Oss, addressed to four Dutch ophthalmologists who were unaware of the possibility of laser treatment:
Dear Dr. T.,
I would like draw your attention to the following. This concerns a form of treatment of floaters with the Yag-laser. In the USA this method of treatment has been applied for over 20 years, and since 2009 it is applied by one Doctor in The Netherlands, namely Dr. F. Gerbrandy.
I myself have been successfully liberated from the so called Weiss Ring in both eyes. My vision is clear again. This has been confirmed after testing in Bernhoven Hospital in Oss, the Netherlands.
For patients who suffer from floaters this method of treatment with the Yag-laser offers an opportunity to improve their situation.
It is clear that safety and effectiveness have not yet been proven in scientific publications. Over the past 20 years, thousands of patients have been treated successfully in the USA, but in the absence of scientific evidence this is still deemed experimental.
What do I wish to achieve with this letter?
It is my wish that patients suffering from floaters will be made aware of the existence of treatment with the Yag-laser, enabling them to decide for themselves whether or not to undergo the treatment if possible – even when you, as their treating doctor, have not yet advised them to.
Finally, I would like to point out that floaters have a major impact on one’s daily life, and not for everyone is equipped to learn to live with this.
Sincerely and with kind regards,