Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) is a common condition that occurs in about 75 percent of people over the age of 65.

As people get older, the vitreous, a jelly-like substance inside the eye, changes. This can cause a PVD. Many people are not aware that they have developed a PVD but some notice symptoms such as “floaters” or “flashes.” Floaters may appear to be little dots, circles, lines, clouds, cobwebs, or perhaps one large floater. Flashes occur when the vitreous pulls on the light-sensitive retina. PVD does not in itself cause permanent vision loss. The only threat to vision is the small chance of a retinal tear leading to retinal detachment, which rarely occurs.

What causes it?

The vitreous humor fills the eye behind the lens. It is attached to the retina. Over time the vitreous changes, shrinking and developing liquefied pockets. Similar to the way a gelatin dessert shrinks or detaches from the edge of the pan over time. In rare cases, the vitreous may peel away from the retina, causing a tear or detachment.

How is it treated?

There is no treatment for PVD. Usually, people find that the symptoms calm down after about six months, and you will likely adjust to the floaters. You should come to our office for a comprehensive eye exam at the time you notice floaters or flashes, and your eye doctor will assess whether you are at risk for a retinal tear or detachment.

Is there a cure?

There is no cure for PVD, as the condition is a natural part of the aging process. Most of the time, it does not cause vision loss.

What can I do?

  • You should see a qualified eye doctor within 24 hours of experiencing any of these symptoms, as early intervention can allow treatment of a tear before it becomes a detachment, and increase the chances of recovery if a detachment has occurred.
  • Floaters can be annoying. Some people cope with them by moving their eyes around to create currents in the vitreous and move the floater(s) out of their field of vision.
  • Call this office immediately if you notice a change or increase in floaters or flashes, a blurring of vision, or a curtain-like loss of vision.
  • Inform your eye doctor when you first notice floaters or flashes and undergo a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year.