What is posterior vitreous detachment?

Posterior vitreous detachment, sometime simply called vitreous detachment, occurs when the vitreous, a gel-like substance attached to the retina in the back of the eye, shrinks and pulls away from the retina. By itself, vitreous detachment does not seriously affect your vision and usually does not require any treatment. However, vitreous detachment may make you more susceptible to retinal detachment and macular hole, which are serious conditions that are known to cause visual loss.

The shrinking of the vitreous that causes vitreous detachment is a part of normal aging and generally begins around the age of 50. Vitreous detachment is very common in populations over 80 and is also more likely to occur in patients who are nearsighted or have had vitreous detachment in their other eye.

As the vitreous shrinks, it can form clumps and can pull tiny bits of tissue away from the retina. You may notice these as “floaters,” which appear as floating spots or other shapes in your vision. Less commonly, you may see flashes of light caused by the vitreous pulling on the retina.

Vitreous detachment by itself is not a serious medical condition and is not a serious threat to your vision. Seek prompt medical care if you have mild symptoms that recur or are persistent.

Vitreous detachment increases the risk of retinal detachment and macular hole.Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have a sudden increase in floating spots, flashing lights, or the sense of a curtain being drawn across part of your vision. These could be signs of retinal detachment or macular hole, which are sight-threatening conditions.


What are the symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment?

Symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment are usually minimal and might not be noticed at all. The most common symptoms are floating spots or shapes in your vision. If you are unsure if you have vitreous detachment, contact your ophthalmologist.... Read more about posterior vitreous detachmentsymptoms


What causes posterior vitreous detachment?

Posterior vitreous detachment is caused by the normal shrinking of the vitreous, a gel-like substance in the eye that is attached to the retina in the back of your eye. Over time, the vitreous shrinks and may eventually pull away from the retina. This separation from the retina is termed posterior vitreous detachment or, more simply, vitreous detachment.... Read more about posterior vitreous detachmentcauses


How is posterior vitreous detachment treated?

Because posterior vitreous detachment usually does not produce serious symptoms or lead to serious complications, it is often left untreated. However, if the floating objects and spots associated with posterior vitreous detachment become bothersome, the vitreous may be surgically removed.... Read more about posterior vitreous detachmenttreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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