Zap That Blob

Noninvasive laser procedure answers distress call for eye floaters.

Jack Genova’s career was like a season of CSI: Miami. For 22 years, he was a chemist for the Miami-Dade Police Department
in one of the largest crime labs in the world. But Jack stresses that a real-life crime lab bears little resemblance to the one on the TV series.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Laser vitreolysis dissolved the vitreous floaters that moved in and out of Jack’s vision.

“What you see on CSI is entertaining, but it isn’t accurate,” Jack, 75, confirms. “It shows a glorified version of the job that we did. On CSI, one scientist knows everything about everything, from DNA to fibers, and that’s just not the case in the real world.

“In our crime lab, there were about 50 scientists, and we were highly specialized. One scientist did nothing but firearms. There were those who did nothing but drug analysis. Some did blood and serology, and others did trace evidence. It takes a long time to master one area. No one person can gain all the knowledge to do what they do on CSI.

“I did drug analysis, which involved all types of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and amphetamines. If necessary, I went to court to testify. I’ve testified in county, state, federal and international courts on various drug cases. Sometimes, I analyzed trace evidence such as glass, paint, fibers and fire debris.”

After his years in the crime lab, Jack concluded his career with the Miami-Dade police in the IT department as a computer service manager. Today, he runs an internet-based swimming pool equipment and supply business. But a longstanding issue with one of his eyes has increasingly caused him distress.

“About 10 years ago, I had a cataract removed from my right eye,” Jack recounts. “As a result of the procedure, some of the jelly-like substance in the eye dislodged and became a floater. I went to various doctors over the years, and they said it would eventually settle. Well, 10 years later, it still hadn’t settled.

“The floater was essentially a blob that came into my field of vision on and off. Sometimes, it looked like a spot, but other times it looked like a bug or spider web.

One doctor described it as the Titanic because it was so large.

“It mainly bothered me when I was driving. It came into my peripheral vision and I reacted to it. While driving down the highway at 70 mph, it came into my field of vision, and I thought that a car was coming from the lane next to me into my lane. I worried because that was dangerous.”

Jack did some research and learned about a laser procedure that removes floaters, so he began looking for providers who offered it. After visiting several physicians, he was finally referred to Peter J. Lowe, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Retinal Eye Care Associates. Dr. Lowe subspecializes in diseases of the retina and vitreous. He described Jack’s problem as a vitreous eye floater.

“The vitreous is a cellophane-like lining on the inside of the eye,” Dr. Lowe explains. “As the eye ages or after eye surgery, most commonly to remove cataracts, the lining will often come loose. Typically, it stays in small, almost completely transparent sheets. Sometimes, however, it clumps up into larger debris fields and casts shadows on the retina. Those are eye floaters.

“Jack’s floater was bothersome and aggravated by eye movement. If he looked left, the floater moved right. When it crossed his line of sight in front of his retina, he experienced a momentary loss of vision clarity. This disruption of vision, which often occurred while driving, was the primary reason Jack wanted the floater removed.”

Unappreciated Indicator

To treat Jack’s eye floater, Dr. Lowe used a noninvasive procedure called laser vitreolysis, which dissolves the floaters into tiny gas bubbles that eventually disperse. Vitreolysis is safe, effective and FDA-approved. It is the only nonsurgical treatment for chronic vitreous floaters.

Vitreolysis takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, requires no incisions and causes no discomfort. Dr. Lowe estimates that he has performed more than 1,000 such procedures since he began performing them in 2011.

Laser vitreolysis can be performed multiple times to achieve a successful outcome, without adverse side effect. Dr. Lowe, the only retina specialist doing vitreolysis in his area, performed the procedure twice to dissolve the blob-like floater in
Jack’s right eye.

As it does with many patients, the procedure carried with it a benefit for Jack.

“I had confidence in letting Dr. Lowe perform his vitreolysis procedure on me, and retrospectively, that was the 100 percent correct decision to make.” – Jack

Contrast is the variation in brightness that makes objects being viewed more distinguishable,” Dr. Lowe observes. “In ophthalmology, contrast sensitivity is an unappreciated indicator of visual loss, and under ordinary circumstances, not much can be done to improve it. But many patients who undergo vitreolysis realize a marked brightening and improvement in contrast sensitivity.

“Jack was one of those patients who noticed after the procedure that objects were brighter and clearer. And he had already undergone cataract surgery on his right eye and received a premium intraocular lens replacement that gave him 20/20 vision. The reason the contrast sensitivity in that eye was off was because of the floater and the shadow it cast in his vision. But that was corrected by the vitreolysis.”

“Skilled Professional”

“After the procedures, Dr. Lowe said, Let’s let your eye settle and see how the floater responds,” Jack recalls. “I won’t say that the floater is 100 percent gone. Occasionally, I see something small floating in my eye, but it doesn’t bother me or interfere with my driving.

“It was good to have such a skilled doctor as Dr. Lowe behind the procedure.” – Jack

“Vitreolysis is an elective procedure, but for me, it wasn’t elective. There was a physical reason I chose to have it done: The floater impaired my ability to drive safely. I call vitreolysis the Star Wars procedure: Let the power of the Force be with you. It was good to have such a skilled doctor as Dr. Lowe behind the procedure.

“I recommend Dr. Lowe as a skilled professional. He obviously knows what he’s doing, and he doesn’t perform the procedure just for the sake of doing it. He only performs it if he believes there’s a sound medical reason to do so.

“I had confidence in letting Dr. Lowe perform his vitreolysis procedure on me, and retrospectively that was the 100 percent correct decision to make.”

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    • Retinal Eye Care Associates

      At Retinal Eye Care Associates, they strive to provide the "best eye care in the county." To achieve this goal, Dr. Lowe and his staff actively participate in continuing medical education to remain clinically up-to-date. Additionally, the prac... Read More

    • Peter J. Lowe, MD

      Peter J. Lowe, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist who specializes in retinal and vitreous disease. After completing his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, he received his medical degree from Chicago Medic... Read More