About Posterior Vitreous Detachments
A posterior vitreous separation occurs when the vitreous gel begins to shrink and pull away from the retina as we age. When the vitreous separates from the retina, floaters are often noticeable. Patients often become aware of flashing lights when the vitreous tugs on the retina during its separation from the retina. When tugging or traction on the retina is severe, a retinal tear or retinal detachment can develop. Any patient with sudden new onset of floaters or flashes should have their retina examined to determine the cause and ensure that proper treatment is initiated.
Posterior Vitreous Detachment Symptoms
The most common symptom that a patient with a Posterior Vitreous Detachment will experience is floaters and flashes. Floaters are small opaque parts of the vitreous that cast a shadow on the retina. Flashes are often described as “flashes of light” that appear in your vision like a flash form a camera or a crash of lightning.
Diagnosis and Tests for Posterior Vitreous Detachments
A Posterior Vitreous detachment can usually be detected diring a dilated retinal exam. However, an Optometric Coherence Tomography (OCT) may be used if the vitreous gel is harder to see. OCT is a non-invasive, quick photograph that uses light rays to measure the thickness of the retina. OCT provides a detailed, high magnified, cross-section view of the retina on a microscopic level. It can often reveal tiny abnormal areas not readily apparent during an exam. An OCT photograph is not an x-ray and is not harmful to your eyes.
Posterior Vitreous Detachment Treatment
Posterior Vitreous Detachments usually have no treatments, as they are considered a natural part of the aging process. However, a vitreous attachments can also be associated with a retinal condition like a Retinal Tear or Retinal Detachments, for which treatment and often laser treatment or surgery would become necessary.
Can you prevent a Posterior Vitreous Detachment.
There is no way to prevent a posterior vitreous separation from occurring and it is often seen as a natural part of the aging process as the vitreous gel in the eye behind to move away from the retina as we get older.
Why do I see flashes when I have a Posterior Vitreous Detachment?
Flashes occur due to a Posterior Vitreous Detachment because as the vitreous separates form the retina, it can tug on the retina, causing the appearance of flashes of light in your vision.
Who is at risk for a Posterior Vitreous Detachment?
This process is more common in patients that are highly myopic (near-sighted), are older than 60 years of age, or have had intraocular surgery or injections.
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Other Conditions Treated at RCA
Our ophthalmologists are experienced in diagnosing and treating many retinal conditions.