Posterior Vitreous Detachment – PVD

PVD, or Posterior Vitreous Detachment, is a common eye condition

Vitreous detachment - PVDAbout PVD vitreous detachment. The vitreous can shrink and detach as we age.

A PVD is a common eye condition and is normally harmless. The eye is a very complex organ, containing many parts that function as one in order to produce vision.

The center of the eye’s spherical shape is filled with vitreous humor — a clear, gel-like substance that helps the eyeball maintain its spherical shape. The vitreous lies between the lens (near the front of the eye) and the retina, the light-sensitive, inner lining of the inside of the eye.

The vitreous contains millions of tiny intertwined fibers that are connected to the retina from birth and throughout our younger years. As we age, the vitreous tends to contract and slowly pull away from the retina. The attached vitreous fibers usually break, allowing the vitreous to cleanly separate. Vitreous detachment is a common and normal aging change in the eye.

Sometimes, when the vitreous detaches, small pieces of scar tissue and fibers can break off and “float” around in the vitreous.

Risks of vitreous detachment

Vitreous detachment is most commonly seen in people over the age of fifty and is seen even more prominently as we grow older. In people over the age of 80, it is likely. People who have experienced a vitreous detachment in one eye are much more likely to get one in the other.

Vitreous detachment symptoms

In most cases, a PVD is not even noticed by the patient. However, floating spots in the vision, “floaters“, is the most commonly seen symptom of PVD, especially when they come on suddenly. Floaters can appear as small floating “specks” in the vision or globs of floating debris. They can even take on a “cobweb” appearance that can be large and dense enough to obscure vision. The objects seen floating around are actually the shadows being cast onto the retina by the debris in the vitreous.

Occasionally, flashes of light in the far peripheral vision can accompany a vitreous detachment. These flashes should be monitored closely. In some cases, a dilate eye exam is needed to check on the health of the retina.

Vitreous detachment treatment

Rarely, if floaters and vitreous debris becoming visually debilitating, a pars plana vitrectomy can be performed to clear the vitreous surgically.