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Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)

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Vitreous is a jelly-like substance that occupies most of the volume of the eye. It is primarily a mixture of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and water.

The vitreous gel is loosely attached to the surface of the retina but tightly attached over key structures. These include the fovea, the optic disc, over blood vessels, and over any areas of scarring.

What are the symptoms of vitreous detachment?

Spontaneous separation and shift of the vitreous from the retinal surface is a normal event that will happen to essentially everyone. PVD often happens slowly and is hardly noticed. Alternatively, flashes of light and floaters may develop. Flashes (termed photopsias) indicate traction on the retina. Floaters represent condensations of the vitreous causing shadows on the retina.

Is PVD dangerous? Is it related to retinal detachment?

Vitreous detachment in itself is not a threat to vision. Sometimes, however, the retina is torn when the vitreous gel shifts. Fluid hydraulically from the vitreous cavity can move through the tear, detaching the retina from the outer layers of the eye.

How do I know if I have a vitreous or a retinal detachment?

Both symptoms of vitreous detachment (flashes and floaters) may also be seen with retinal detachment. A symptom of retinal detachment not usually seen with vitreous detachment alone is the sensation of a dark curtain or window shade being pulled across the eye. All symptoms of concern should be evaluated with a dilated exam.

What can be done about floaters?

Currently, no eye drops or medications can dissolve floaters. Floaters generally become less noticeable with time as they settle and as a patient adapts.

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Thanks to Dr. Beck and his staff's committed effort and care I have beaten ocular cancer and retained my eyesight. I will be a patient of his forever. - Denise M., Retired Air National Guard