What is posterior vitreous detachment?

What can you expect when you have vitreous detachment?

Vitreous detachment usually doesn't need treatment.

It's common to have some floaters. They usually don't affect your vision, although they can be annoying at times. But a sudden increase in floaters and flashes can be a sign of a serious problem that needs to be checked out by your eye doctor.

Sometimes the vitreous pulls away so strongly from the retina that it leaves a hole in the retina or makes the retina detach from the back of the eye. Either of these problems can lead to vision loss if not treated quickly.

What are the symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)?

The main symptoms of PVD are floaters and flashes of light. Having floaters or flashes does not always mean that you are about to have a retinal detachment, but it is important to tell your doctor about these symptoms right away. A sudden change in these symptoms could be a warning sign of a retinal tear or detachment.

What problems can happen when you have posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)?

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) that happens as a normal part of aging usually does not cause any problems. But if the vitreous gel is strongly attached to the retina, the gel can pull so hard on the retina—a process called traction—that it tears the retina. The tear then allows fluid to collect under the retina and may lead to a retinal detachment.

PVD that results from injury, inflammation, or surgery may occur suddenly and may also cause a retinal tear.

What is posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)?

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) happens when vitreous gel shrinks and separates from the retina. PVD normally happens over a period of time, and it's something that you won't feel.

What causes posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)?

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) happens as a normal part of aging.

It happens because the vitreous gel in the middle of your eye begins to change by the time you are 40 or 50. The gel's normal structure breaks down in a process called syneresis. Parts of the gel shrink and lose fluid. The fluid collects in pockets in the middle of the eye, and thick strands of the gel form and drift through the eye. These strands appear as floaters.

In addition to normal, age-related changes in the vitreous gel, PVD can also result from eye injury or inflammation or can happen after eye surgery.

Vitreous detachment: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have vision changes.
  • You see new flashes of light.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You see new or worse floaters.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.