I am a middle age college professor who teaches engineering at a well known university in Upstate NY. Below is my floater story.It all started in early September of last year when I accidentally hit my left eye with my palm while I was in bed. Despite the slight pain that resulted, I did not think much of it until the next morning when I noticed something was very wrong! I saw an amoeba-like object wriggling in my field of vision and as I moved my eye, a large blob of translucent material was drifting in and out of my sight. Fearing that I had done some serious damage to my eye, I made an emergency appointment with my ophthalmologist and after an eye exam determined that the amoeba-like object was a Weiss ring and the clumpy mass was a large floater. It was told the condition was benign, and given time my brain would adjust to their presence and learn to ignore them. While I was relieved to learn that the situation was not as serious as I thought, the notion of having to live with these two floaters for the rest of my life was very unappealing and depressing. Unwilling to accept defeat, I started doing a lot of research about floaters, trying to learn as much as possible about them and to find out whether there were any treatments available. After separating the wheat from the chaff following an extensive internet search, I found that the “do nothing” approach was not the only option available. There are two medical treatments – vitrectomy and laser vitreolysis – that one can consider. To me, vitrectomy seems a bit drastic and appears to carry some high risks, although if done properly on an otherwise healthy eye by a skilled surgeon, I believe these risks can be greatly reduced. Being in the field of engineering and very familiar with how laser works, I was quite intrigued by the other treatment method – laser vitreolysis. Upon further research into the subject, I was quite surprised to find out that there are only three doctors in the US who perform this type of treatment. They are (in alphabetical order) – Dr. Geller in FL, Dr. Johnson in CA, and Dr. Karickhoff in VA. I contacted two of them, Dr. Karickhoff and Dr. Johnson, and was very pleased that they both answered my e-mails promptly and thoroughly. Because of my proximity to VA (I reside in NY), I first went to Dr. Karickhoff for treatment. Dr. Karickhoff is a very polite, soft-spoken, experienced and cautious gentleman-doctor. Following a thorough eye exam, he told me he would have no problem taking out the Weiss ring, but (because of the size and location of the other floater) he would not be able to do anything to it. Indeed, after two laser sessions that totalled about 30 minutes, the Weiss ring was gone! As I left Dr. Karickhoff’s office, I had mixed feelings – I was pleased that the Weiss ring was gone but saddened by the fact that the large translucent mass still remained in my eye! For months, I literally shifted my focus to my right eye and whenever I was reading or looking at a computer screen, I often needed to close my left eye and use only my right eye so I wouldn’t be distracted and could remain focused! Then one day it daunted on me that I shouldn’t have given up hope so early since there was another doctor whom I had communicated with and had not seen yet. I then called Dr. Johnson and made an appointment to see him this January. The decision to call and see Dr. Johnson was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
I met with Dr. Johnson during the second week of January. My impression of Dr. Johnson was exceedingly positive – he is very caring, kind, honest, knowledgeable and very easy to talk to. Usually, doctors nowadays are so busy - they see multiple patients at the same time, shuffling between patients from office to office. This is NOT the mode Dr. Johnson operates in – I got his undivided attention throughout my entire time in his office! After putting dilating drops in my eye, he clearly and patiently explained to me how laser vitreolysis works, what the risks are and what the expected outcome would be. In no way or form did he say the procedure was the panacea to every floater problem or push me into making an uninformed or rash decision. After the examination, he formulated a plan of attack and carefully explained to me what he intended to do with the treatment. The big floater in my eye was quite problematic in that (1) it was located at the bottom of my eye near the lens, and (2) it was quite massive. Because of its tricky location, this big floater was outside the normal “kill zone” in the eye. As a result, Dr. Johnson ended up using a mirror to direct the laser beams to where the clumpy mass was, not only to reduce its size and density as much as possible but to move it to the kill zone so the laser could be a lot more effective. The strategy was a success and after two treatments that lasted for a total of some 3+ hours, the big translucent mass that had distorted my vision and caused me such agony for months was gone! Because the procedure was so intensive and required great concentration on the part of Dr. Johnson, he took short breaks every now and then, and while we were having the breaks, we talked about a number of subjects totally unrelated to floaters. Topics that we discussed included the universe, the human soul, parenting, the city of Irvine, real estates, and last but not the least – country music!
All in all, I had a wonderful experience with Dr. Johnson. He is a kind-hearted, brilliant, creative and experienced surgeon who has a genuine interest in making his patients feel comfortable and relieving them of their floater problems. I will not hesitate to recommend any of my relatives and friends to seek his advice and consider treatment if appropriate.
Am I a 100% cured? No. I still have a few faint but visible strands and specks in my left eye. But given what I had before, I consider it a huge improvement and would do it again in a heartbeat. I may seek additional treatments in the future if both Dr. Johnson and I determine that such treatments will be beneficial, and of course report the outcome. In the meantime, I am truly grateful to what Dr. Johnson has done for me.