There are numerous age-related changes that occur in the eye. One of these involves the vitreous, the
jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye and lies in front of the retina.
What causes a vitreous detachment?
As we get older, the vitreous gets thinner and forms spaces that fill with fluid.
In some people, holes form spontaneously in the back face of the vitreous that lies next to the retina.
At this point the fluid inside the vitreous leaks out of the hole and spreads between the back face of the vitreous and the retina.
This causes the vitreous to separate away from the retina, and is the basis of a vitreous detachment.
What are the symptoms of a vitreous detachment?
Symptoms of vitreous detachment include flashing lights, usually noted peripherally, and floaters.
The flashing lights are a result of attachment between the vitreous and the retina. As the vitreous separates from the retina, a pulling force-traction- is applied to the retina at the sites of firm attachment.
The retina responds to traction with the sensation of flashing lights. Floaters may result from a condensed ring of attachment being pulled in front of the retina, where it can remain suspended.
The floater is the shadow image of the ring. Floaters can also result from small tears in the retina that liberate packets of pigment that normally reside deep to the retina.
How does vitreous detachment affect vision?
In and of itself, vitreous detachment is not a bad thing.
It has some potential for damaging the retina, however.
When traction on the retina results in the formation of a hole, some of the fluid in the eye can get beneath the retina.
This can become a retinal detachment. This is the complication of vitreous detachment that concerns us, and is the reason for us following you closely.
If your eye demonstrates no evidence of a retinal tear or retinal detachment, we will reassure you.
However, you must remain vigilant for the symptoms of retinal detachment: new batches of flashing lights or floaters,
change in vision, or a shadow in your vision. If any of these symptoms occur, please contact us the same day.
Remember that a vitreous detachment is a common age-related event in the eye. It has no association with any disease process anywhere else in the body.