Friday, January 11, 2013

[D' Spectacle Boy Shared]What causes a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD). Are they dangerous? How are they detected and treated?

Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)

What is vitreous detachment?

Most of the eye's interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps the eye maintain a round shape. As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks, allowing it to separate from the retina. In most cases, a PVD is not sight-threatening and requires no treatment.

Risk Factors

A vitreous detachment is a common condition that usually affects people over age 50, and is very common after age 80. People who are nearsighted are also at increased risk. Those who have a vitreous detachment in one eye are likely to have one in the other, although it may not happen until years later.

Symptoms and Detection

As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina that you may notice as floaters, which appear as little "cobwebs" or specks that seem to float about in your field of vision. During a PVD, you may experience an increase in floaters that may be accompanied by flashes of light (lightning streaks) in your peripheral, or side, vision.

Sight-threatening complications:  Once in a while some of the vitreous fibers pull so hard on the retina that they create a macular hole to or lead to a retinal detachment. Both of these conditions are sight-threatening and should be treated immediately.

How is vitreous detachment detected? The only way to diagnose the cause of the problem is by a comprehensive dilated eye examination. At Bedford Eye Care, we utilize Optomap digital imaging in all cases to ensure evaluation of the entire retina. If the vitreous detachment has led to a macular hole or detached retina, early treatment can help prevent loss of vision.


The chances of experiencing a retinal detachment are highest during the first couple months after a PVD. As such, your doctor will make recommendations with respect to follow-up and this generally includes at least one additional examination that will include pupil dilation.

Symptoms requiring immediate Re-evaluation

During the weeks following your initial assessment and diagnosis, you may experience additional symptoms. Contact our office immediately should you experience any of the following:
  • The sudden appearance of many new floaters or the appearance of one very large new floater
  • Changes in the number or frequency of “flashes” symptoms
  • A change in your vision clarity
  • Loss of peripheral or “side” vision
The most serious consequence, a retinal detachment which causes loss of side vision is a medical emergency and must be treated within 24-48 hours if sight is to be preserved.
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