A Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) is not the same as a retinal detachment. A PVD is a condition of the eye in which the vitreous gel (the part that fills the eye behind the lens) separates from the retina.
It is a normal ageing change within the eye, typically occurring from our mid-50’s onwards. In most cases there are no adverse outcomes from PVD but in some instances, a retinal tear or detachment may result. Occasionally PVD can also result in a vitreous haemorrhage, in which the eye fills with blood, blocking the vision altogether.
The symptoms of PVD are flashes of light and floaters. The floaters are usually first and may take the form of many dots, strands, circles, or cobwebs. The flashes of light are usually momentary but may be repetitive. More noticeable at night. The examination will require that your pupil be dilated (enlarged) with eyedrops so that a full view of the back of the eye can be undertaken.
If you have sudden onset of floaters or flashes in an eye, then you should obtain an examination from your eye care professional to confirm a diagnosis of PVD and exclude the presence of a retinal tear or detachment.
In the vast majority of cases, no treatment is required. The flashes usually subside over a few weeks but the floating spots may persist in your awareness for some months. Rarely the floaters can affect the quality of vision and require removal. Currently there is no non-invasive way of removing floaters. In the past, laser has been tried with very little success. The only way to really remove floaters is with a vitrectomy operation. Only very few people with PVD require this procedure. Discuss this with your Opththalmologist.
If you have a torn or detached retina then laser treatment or surgery may be required. Your Ophthalmologist will advise on this.
There are some long term consequences of PVD including epiretinal membranes, vitreomacular traction syndrome, chronic retinal detachment, and recurrent vitreous haemorrhage.