The method that is going to be researched by Dr. Tassignon and her ophthalmological team consists in a new groundbreaking technique applied to dissolve all type of vitreous eye floaters.
The current YAG laser has been used since the 1980s to treat eye floaters. It has not proved to be efficient in treating all type of eye floaters. In fact, only a small minority of people with eye floaters can be treated. The YAG laser aims to treat certain type of floaters by trying to localize the floater and treating it with the laser. The YAG laser tries to dissolve or break down floaters. When a floater is too close to the lens or the retina it can‘t be treated because there is a risk that the laser hits the retina and / or the lens.
The new technique consists of a femtosecond laser treatment for eye floaters. The patent for this method has been requested in October 2015 and it has been approved and published on 17 March 2016. The femtosecond laser technique consists firstly in measuring the volume of the vitreous humor by OCT (optical coherence tomography) to determine the area of the vitreous humor. The OCT helps to determine the safe area of the lens and of the retina. The new OCT’s can measure very precise distances. Once this area of the vitreous humor is measured then secondly the floaters are treated.
The vitreous humor is homogenized with the femtosecond laser and the eye floaters are pulverized by this method. This physical interaction will liquefy the vitreous humor which will be similar to a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). The aim is to modify the viscosity of the vitreous and induce a PVD so that all the floaters can be treated, including the floaters in the premacular bursa. If more floaters appear after the PVD (including a weiss ring), then a subsequent treatment with the femtolaser will be performed to pulverize them all.
Patent for femtosecond laser apparatus for plasma induced vitreous ablation in the eye: https://www.google.com/patents/US20160074221
What is the difference between the YAG laser and the femtosecond laser treatment?
The difference between the YAG laser treatment and the femtosecond laser treatment is that the treatment consists of a volumetric approach towards the vitreous and not a point to point approach, such as the YAG laser. The pattern in which the femtosecond laser will be applied needs to be researched. There are many patterns and research will determine which is the best one to use. The femtosecond laser will change the consistency and viscosity of the vitreous humor and therefore eliminate all the eye floaters. By this grinding technique with the femtosecond laser the floaters will be dissolved.
Stages of the research:
- Proof of principle: is positive
- Laboratory research: (duration: 1 year approximately)
- Animal testing: to refine the technique and determine the feasibility (duration: 1 year approximately)
- Human testing: (duration: 1 year approximately)
How and why we support this research:
The Eye Floaters Research Organisation (EFRO) supports this research project with an unrestricted research grant as it is the usual way in which universities and recognized research institutions accept collaboration and sponsorship. An unrestricted research grant allows the sponsor to be involved in the research project and to support it in order to get quicker a safe and effective treatment. It will also allow the sponsor to contact the media to express their visibility as a sponsor.
The industry will not pay for this research because of conflict of interests. That is why the hospital and university of Antwerp works with non-industry related partners.
The unrestricted research grant consists of sponsoring € 60,000 / year for three consecutive years. Dr. Tassignon believes this is a realistic deadline to get the treatment in the clinic. The money funded for the unrestricted research grant will be used to pay for a PhD with no industry links to research independently this new proposed technique.