Eye Diseases

POSTERIOR VITREOUS DETACHMENT (PVD)

POSTERIOR VITREOUS DETACHMENT (PVD)

WHAT IS POSTERIOR VITREOUS DETATCHMENT (PVD)?

The center of the eye is filled with a jelly-like substance called the "vitreous". At a young age, this jelly substance is very thick with a consistency somewhat like "jello". With time, this jelly substance becomes more liquefied.

The vitreous is usually completely attached to the retina, which is the light sensitive seeing membrane in the back of the eye. As the vitreous jelly becomes progressively liquefied, it begins to move around inside the eye. Eventually, the vitreous becomes so loose that it "pulls away" from the retina behind it. This is called a "Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD).

WHO IS AT RISK FOR A VITREOUS DETACHMENT?

Although a Vitreous detachment may occur at any age, most detachments occur over the age of 50. Studies show that almost 80% of the population experiences a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) by age 75.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR A POSTERIOR VITREOUS DETACHMENT (PVD)?

In general, a Posterior Vitreous separation is usually innocuous. Patients will typically experience the development of a large floater within their central vision. Although harmless, this is nevertheless annoying and may persist for several months.

Other risk factors include the more serious development of a retinal tear or detachment. This development would occur if the jelly substance teased and pulled away retina during separation. This may lead to a sight threatening condition known as a Retinal Detachment. Although uncommon, some literature suggests that a retinal tear may occur in 5%-10% of symptomatic patients during the first 6 weeks. For this reason, our Doctors always perform a thorough dilated examination at the initial visit, and subsequent follow-ups. If the patient passes 3 months without incident they are typically followed annually.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS FOR PVD AND HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

A thorough dilated examination by one of our doctors is strongly recommended with any of the following symptoms:

1.  Onset of floaters or increase in number of floaters. (Floaters are often described as small black threads or cobwebs in vision.)

2.  Any association with flashes of white light in your peripheral or "side" vision, or an increase in flashes of light. These flashes would be more ominous if they occurred without exertion.

3.  A black curtain, or constant disturbance, noted in your side vision. You can check each eye by covering one eye at a time.

HOW ARE RETINAL TEARS TREATED?

Sometimes tears in the retina are treated with laser surgery. Below, at the left, a retinal tear is shaped like a horseshoe! Below, to the right, laser application surrounding the tear seals down the tear, preventing it from getting bigger and allowing for resorption of fluid beneath the retina.