Vitreous Detachment and Floaters

What are Vitreous Detachments and Floaters?

The vitreous humor is the jelly-like substance that fills the majority of the back of the eye between the lens and the retina. As we age this substance becomes more fluid and eventually detaches from the retina in several areas. This happens and often produces vitreous floaters, which are thicker portions of the vitreous floating in the more liquid portion. The symptoms of these floaters are shadows or dark spots that move through the visual field and can be seen at all ages. A posterior vitreous detachment or PVD is most common after 40 years of age where the vitreous will separate from the back of the retina near the optic nerve.

Vitreous Detachment Symptoms

When a vitreous detachment occurs, symptoms similar to a retinal detachment may be noted, as traction with the retina is common. These symptoms include increased floaters (especially ring shaped central floaters) and flashes of light (photopsias). It is extremely important to have a dilated funduscopic examination if any of these symptoms are noted as retinal tears are possible during these detachments and must be monitored for up to 3 months after onset of symptoms to rule out this risk of retinal detachment.