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Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) is a common condition which occurs in about 75% of people over the age of 65. As people get older the vitreous, a jelly-like substance inside your eye, changes. This can cause a PVD. Many people are not aware that they have developed PVD but some notice symptoms such as "floaters" or "flashers". Floaters may appear to be little dots, circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs, or perhaps one large floater. Flashers occur when the vitreous pulls on the light-sensitive retina. PVD does not in itself cause permanent vision loss. The only threat to vision is the small chance of a retinal tear leading to a retinal detachment, which occurs rarely.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
The vitreous humor fills the eye behind the lens. At birth it is attached to the retina. Over time the vitreous changes, shrinking and developing liquified pockets, similar to the way a gelatin dessert shrinks, or detaches, from the edge of a pan over time. In rare cases, the vitreous may peel away from the retina, causing a tear or detachment.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
There is no treatment for PVD. Usually people find that the symptoms calm down after about six months and you will likely adjust to the floaters. You should come to our office for a comprehensive eye exam at the time you notice floaters or flashes, and your eye doctor will assess whether you are at risk for a retinal tear or detachment.
IS THERE A CURE?
There is no cure for PVD, as the condition is a natural part of the aging process. Most of the time, it does not cause vision loss.
WHAT CAN I DO?
1. Inform your eye doctor when you first notice floaters or flashers, and undergo a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year.
2. Floaters can be annoying. Some people cope with floaters by moving their eyes around to create currents in the vitreous and move the floaters out of your direct field of vision.
3. Call this office immediately if you notice a change or increase in floaters or flashers, a blurring of vision, or a curtain-like loss of vision.
4. You should see a qualified eye doctor within 24 hours of experiencing these symptoms, as early intervention can allow treatment of a tear before it becomes a detachment, and increase the chances of recovery if a detachment has occurred.