The age group that is by far the most successfully treated is the older than 45-50 year old patient. This group makes up the bulk of our patient base. They have often experienced a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) described also on our floaters page.
The vitreous detachment may occur quite rapidly as there is a posterior movement and shift of this fluid. As this occurs, the vitreous body moves forward separating from the retina. The patient may experience a sudden onset of a large floater, or multiple scattered floaters, or thousands of small round specks scattered all throughout the eye.
Weiss Ring Floaters
A Weiss ring floater is a particular type of floater that is always associated with a PVD. There is often a particular thickening of the vitreous outer containing sac that surrounds the optic nerve head where it enters the eye. These floaters are classically ring-shaped, but may also collapse into a dense central floater.
Weiss ring floaters rarely occur in isolation. There is often other floaters that coexist such as strands and dense clouds, but the Weiss ring tends to be the most prominent and bothersome.
Treatability of older patients
The good news is that even though the floaters associated with a PVD are typical larger and more extensive than with the younger age groups, these floaters are more successfully treated. They are usually clustered away from the critical eye structures (retina and lens), and the density of the Weiss ring-derived floaters absorb the laser energy readily and are definitively vaporized. There is some fragmentation of the floater into microscopic pieces that may benefit from further treatment or they may be so small as to be optically invisible. As with all patients, the other, cloud-like floaters that may also be present can be treated, but tend to have more of a tendency to regress or reform. This effect is described in detail on the Expectations of Laser Treatment page.