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Posterior Vitreous Detachment | PVD

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) occurs when the gel that fills the eyeball separates from the retina. It's a natural, normal part of aging.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment | PVD

The Problem

A posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a common age-related change that happens inside the eye. The vitreous gel, which fills the space between the lens and the retina, undergoes changes as we age. Normally, the vitreous gel is firmly attached to the retina, but with time, it starts to shrink and pull away from the retina. Over time little pockets of fluid build up in the back of the eye in the vitreous gel. The vitreous then collapses. As it collapses little condensations are formed. These are termed “floaters” and can look like little black flies or spider webs. You might also see flashes of light, which typically last for seconds, especially when you move your eyes quickly or in dim lighting conditions. This is very common being seen in 63% of 70-year-olds.  It happens sooner if one is near sighted or if there is a history of trauma.

The Procedure

No treatment is needed for a PVD. Although the symptoms are very troubling at first, over time the brain can tune it out and sometimes the floaters can settle somewhat with gravity. That is not to say that they will go away.  On a bright sunny day, they can often be noticed against a white cloud, or noticed in a bright room against a white wall.

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Risks?

Rarely, a posterior vitreous detachment can lead to a retinal tear or retinal detachment. If one has lots of floaters or sees a curtain it is recommended that they urgently see an eye care specialist.

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