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What is a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)?

A posterior vitreous detachment is more commonly found in adults over the age of 50.  The vitreous is the clear gel (about the consistency of jello) which fills the center of the eye.  It provides a cushion for the eye in cases of injury where the eye is jarred by an outside force, such as being hit in the head, being in a car accident, or falling down.

Over the course of many years, this gel inside the eye begins to become more and more fluid and less gel-like.  This progression from gel to liquid causes the vitreous to weigh more, and thus the liquid tends to pull downward (due to gravity) on the inner lining of the eye.  As the vitreous weighs more and more, it can pull away from the inner lining of the eye and float freely inside the globe of the eye.  This pulling away from the lining is called vitreous detachment. 

If I have a floater in my vision does that mean I have a PVD?

Floaters by themselves are not a sign of eye disease or a sign of vitreous detachment.  It is normal for someone to see a few floaters in their vision occasionally.  Although, after a vitreous detachment, it is common to see a small increase in the number of black spots or specks you notice in your vision.  These specks, spots, or other shapes, are also called floaters.  Floaters in general, are caused by folds and debris in the vitreous, casting a shadow on the inside of the eye.

Is a PVD vision threatening?

It is important to note that vitreous detachment is not a painful experience...usually there is no feeling associated with vitreous detachment, there is only a change in vision.  A posterior vitreous detachment is usually not a vision threatening eye condition. 

In cases of posterior vitreous detachment, the eyes should be seen frequently for a period of six to twelve weeks, so that any pulling forces can be monitored.  If these forces are strong enough, they can also cause a retinal detachment.  Once the vitreous detachment is "old" and there is a clear separation between the vitreous and retina, the likelihood of retinal detachment caused by vitreous detachment is very small.

What risks are associated with a PVD?

Since there is some risk of retinal detachment after having vitreous detachment, the following warning signs of retinal detachment include: 

  •  a sudden increase in the number of floaters. 
  •  flashes of light in your side vision. 
  •  a shadow, veil or curtain coming over or across your side vision. 
  •  lines which should look straight look bent or wavy. 
  •  central vision is blurry, and it cannot be improved in any way. 

If you notice any warning sign of retinal detachment you should contact our office immediately.

Will this floater in my vision ever go away?

Immediately following the PVD, the floater may appear fairly large and bothersome, but over time it tends to shrink up on itself and become less bothersome and less noticeable.

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