Posterior Vitreous Detachment
Have you ever been lying on your back, looking up at a clear sky and suddenly noticed a slowly moving spec? It probably wasn’t a UFO. More likely, it was a common floater: specks, squiggles or cobwebs caught inside the vitreous gel of our eyes that only gets more prominent with age.
As we age, the vitreous becomes more liquid-like and separates from the retina near the back of the eye, over the macula. This separation is called a posterior vitreous detachment, or PVD. A PVD naturally occurs in 40% of people by age 40 and nearly 70% by age 70; however, it can occur in younger nearsighted patients or after an eye injury or surgery. As the vitreous separates from the retina one will often see floaters. The floaters are actually shadows, cast upon your retina, of protein and cell debris. Most people learn to ignore them, and many will fade away in time. If, however, they obstruct your vision, try looking up and then down to clear them.
Most floaters and flashes will subside over time. Most patients’ symptoms fade over weeks to months, but some will occasionally notice the floaters indefinitely.
In time, the vitreous gel can totally shrink from its structure. It usually happens suddenly and may be accompanied by flashes or streaks of light. New floaters may appear. When this happens, it’s important to make an appointment with an eye doctor for a dilated exam as soon as possible; if the vitreous pulls away too fast, it can tear the retina. This is a serious problem. It can lead to a detached retina and potentially vision loss.
Concerns about seeing spots are only natural, and most of the time it’s just part of the aging process. If you still have questions, talk to San Francisco / North Bay Ophthalmologist and LASIK eye surgeon Dr. Bansal about any visual concerns or problems you’re experiencing.
At LaserVue Eye Center we provide care for Posterior Vitreous Detachments. Please call 1.800.527.3745 to schedule your appointment today.