What is Posterior Vitreous Detachment?
The eye works like a camera. It has two parts, a lens, and a film. The film layer lines the back wall of the eyes and is called the retina. There is a gel called the vitreous which is very firmly adherent to the retina. The vitreous separates from the back of the eye towards the front of the eye as a normal part of aging. Adults no longer need the vitreous to see normally. Therefore, the goal is for the gel to separate completely without causing a retinal tear or detachment. This process takes 4-6 weeks to complete in most patients and may cause a myriad of symptoms.
Many patients are made aware that this process is occurring because they notice black spots that move when their eye moves (floaters). Some patients will notice what looks like a spider web or net floating in the vision. These symptoms can be quite disturbing but usually resolve by approximately 90% within 3 months of their onset. They usually resolve completely within 1 year, but often sooner.
Some patients may experience white arc-shaped lights in the peripheral part of their vision that is most prominent in the dark. These occur very frequently for the first few days. They slowly start to decrease in frequency over several days to a month.
Patients who are diagnosed with a posterior vitreous detachment may decrease their risk of developing a retinal tear or detachment by avoiding high-impact activities such as running or swimming. Avoid fast acceleration-deceleration such as roller coasters.
It is important that patients are aware of the signs of a retinal tear or detachment. It is normal to have flashes of light for the first few days. If the flashes of light become very infrequent, but then suddenly become very frequent again, this could be a sign of a retinal tear.
When To Contact Retina Specialists of Tampa
The onset of many new floaters may be a sign of a new tear or bleeding within the eye. Patients who see a black curtain in the vision are experiencing a retinal detachment. Most patients who develop a posterior vitreous detachment never go on to develop a retinal detachment. Patients who develop any of these signs of a retinal tear or detachment need to contact their retina specialist the same day to discuss their symptoms.