Posterior Vitreous Detachment

Posterior vitreous detachment is a natural change that occurs during adulthood when the vitreous gel that fills the eye separates from the retina, the light-sensing nerve layer at the back of the eye.


Mild floaters (mobile, blurry shadows that obscure the vision) in the vision are normal, but a sudden increase in floaters is often the first symptom of posterior vitreous detachment.

During PVD, floaters are often accompanied by flashes, which are most noticeable in dark surroundings. The majority of patients experience these floaters and flashes during the first few weeks of a PVD, however, in some cases, the symptoms are hardly noticeable. If PVD is complicated by vitreous haemorrhage, retinal detachment, epiretinal membrane, or macular hole, the flashes and floaters may be accompanied by increased or distorted vision. Floaters are most bothersome when near the centre of vision and less annoying when they settle at the side of vision. They sometimes appear like cobwebs, dust, or a swarm of insects – or in the shape of a circle or an oval, called a Weiss ring.

These symptoms usually become less intense over several weeks. Most patients experience PVD after the age of 60, once in each eye, and the condition is usually non-sight threatening but can occasionally affect vision more permanently in the event of complications, such as retinal detachment or epiretinal membrane.

Diagnosis, Screening and Tests

The early symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment are very similar to the symptoms of retinal detachment.

It is extremely important to receive a professional diagnosis to confirm if the symptoms aren’t related to retinal detachment which is a much more serious condition.

If you experience any of the following symptoms you should arrange to have your eyes thoroughly tested by an ophthalmologist or optometrist within 24 hours:

  • Blurred vision
  • Flashes of light and/or a change/increase in the flashing lights you experience
  • A sudden experience of floaters or an increase in their size and number
  • A dark curtain moving up, down or across your vision


If the posterior vitreous detachment has occurred without associated retinal tears, therapy is not required or indicated. The vitreous will continue to age and liquefy and floaters will usually become less and less noticeable.

If a retinal tear has occurred, treating the retinal tear with laser or cryopexy (a freezing treatment to close the tear) is usually recommended. Surgery will be recommended if the tear has progressed to a retinal detachment.


Unfortunately, there are currently no known prevention methods as the liquefying of vitreous is a natural ageing process.

There are some individuals that believe that adding antioxidants to your diet can help to preserve the integrity of the vitreous by reducing free radicals.

You may want to also contemplate taking eye vitamins, as it is rather difficult to get sufficient nutrients in our dietary habits today.

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