Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is Posterior Vitreous Detachment?
This is a medical condition of the eye, particularly the vitreous which is a substance that is gel-like and is attached to your retina which is in the back of your eye. It is also referred to as vitreous detachment. It is when your vitreous begins to shrink and pull away from your retina and is a normal part of aging. It begins to happen generally around the age of fifty but is very common in people over the age of eighty. It can also occur as early as forty years of age. It is not considered an ocular disease. It is also not a sign of any eye health issue that could be impending unless this happens at a young age.
Posterior Vitreous Detachment Symptoms
The symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment may not be noticed at all and are usually minimal.
There are two common symptoms which are:
- Seeing floating spots or objects that can be a variety of sizes and shapes but are usually circles, flies, dots, cobwebs, or lines that float across your vision. When you shift your gaze they may be seen moving quickly around. There may also be a veil in your vision that comes and goes. This symptom is more noticeable in bright light.
- Seeing flashes of light which are typically brief golden yellow or white streaks in the periphery of your vision and are more obvious when it is dark. These can be brought on by just moving your eyes.
Not everyone will experience both of these symptoms. You could experience one of them but not the other or there may be no symptoms at all.
If you should experience any of these symptoms it could be a sign of a serious medical condition and you should have it evaluated immediately.
- Double or blurred vision.
- Blind spots
- In your peripheral vision you see dark shadows.
- In your vision you see flashing lights.
- You have a sudden increase in the frequency or number of floating spots or objects.
One of the causes of posterior vitreous detachment is when the gel-like substance in your eye pulls away from your retina. This happens because as you age your vitreous will begin to shrink and eventually may pull away from your retina. It is a part of normal age-related changes in the vitreous gel in your eye. It can also be caused by surgical procedures done to your eyes like cataract surgery. It can also be caused by a severe head trauma or injury to your eye. It can also happen because of inflammation that is caused by disease or surgery. It is considered a degenerative change in the vitreous humor of your eye and will usually occur in everyone as they age. Usually when it happens it does not cause any long-term or acute visual problems.
When a person has posterior vitreous detachment it does not usually lead to any serious complication nor has serious symptoms so this medical condition is many times left untreated. The vitreous can be removed surgically if the floating spots or objects that are associated with posterior vitreous detachment start to become bothersome. The surgeon who does this procedure would use a hollow needle to withdraw the vitreous from your eye. It will be replaced by saline liquid. Unfortunately when a person has this surgery it could lead to complications such as developing cataracts or having retinal detachment. If surgery is not performed you may just have to put up with the floaters and flashes of light. The physician may give you some eye drops to use to help reduce the appearance of them.
If you do have this medical condition it is important that you pay close attention to the symptoms if you have any. If there is a sudden increase in the frequency and number of flashing lights or floaters you should see your physician or ophthalmologist because this could be a sign of retinal detachment, which you will not only see the floaters and flashes of light but will also see a curtain or shadow in your field of vision. This medical condition need to be treated immediately in order to avoid loss of vision. Usually surgery is done if this happens to help restore your vision.