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Vitreous Detachment

The eye is like a camera: it has a lens in the front that focuses light and film in the back that captures light. The retina is the “film” inside the human eye that lines the back wall.  Between the lens in the front and the retina in the back of the eye lies a clear gel called the vitreous. A posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a separation between the vitreous gel and the retina.

How does a PVD occur?

At birth, the vitreous gel is clear and firm (like Jell-O), and it is attached to the retina. With age, the vitreous gel becomes liquefied and some of the proteins in the gel clump together—these are the small floaters that most people see. Eventually the back surface of the gel may separate from the retina, often around middle age or after eye surgery (posterior vitreous detachment).

Symptoms of a PVD

Patients experiencing a PVD have short, quick peripheral flashes of light in their vision with possible new floaters

Complications of a PVD

As the vitreous gel separates from the retina, it can sometimes tear the retina causing a retinal detachment or tear a blood vessel causing bleeding inside of the eye (and lots of new floaters).  

Management of a PVD

Detailed examination by a retinal specialist is necessary after a PVD in order to monitor for retinal tear or detachment.  Often 2-3 visits are necessary over several weeks.  

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