A posterior vitreous detachment is not the same thing as a retinal detachment. A posterior vitreous detachment occurs when the vitreous gel separates from the retina, which lines the back wall of the eye. PVD takes place in most eyes as we age, and tends to occur earlier in myopic eyes and after trauma or eye surgery. When a posterior vitreous detachment occurs, bleeding can also occur and the vitreous gel can pull away, causing holes or rip tears in the retina.
The board-certified eye surgeons at Retina Consultants of Houston are able to effectively diagnose and treat patients with PVD. This retina condition is common and an estimated 75% of the 65+ age population has a form of it. Research studies that concentrate on the retina have also found that PVD affects more women than men. In most patients, blurry vision, a loss of vision, or in severe cases, blindness, can occur. In addition, flashers and floaters are also extremely common with PVD.
Causes and Symptoms
The retina is protected by a substance known as vitreous gel, a jelly-like, stiff consistency predominantly made of water and collagen. As a person ages, various structures of the eye, including this gel, can change. This makes the substance more watery and not as strong, which creates potential changes to its shape. When this occurs, the risk of this gel moving away from the retina at the back of the eye to the front or center of the eye can occur. This can lead to symptoms such as floaters, flashes of light, blurry vision, or disoriented sight similar to if a web was placed over the eye. While PVD is not a serious condition, it can lead to additional problems if not treated, such as a retinal tear.
PVD is a condition that is treatable, especially if caught early. It's important to receive a thorough eye exam as soon as symptoms begin, as PVD can sometimes be confused with a retinal tear or detachment. We will perform a comprehensive exam that includes dilating the eye so even the smallest issue can be seen. If PVD is caught early prior to any other condition developing, treatment can help prevent further vision loss or the progression of the retinal disorder.
Treatment and Prognosis
In most situations, our board-certified eye surgeons will likely perform a vitrectomy, which removes the vitreous gel substance from the center of the eye to help reduce the appearance of floaters and blurry vision. This procedure is successful in most cases if a retinal tear or detachment has not occurred. In these situations, other forms of surgery will need to be considered. Most PVD patients will not experience floaters or flashes once treatment has been received, and in many cases, further checkups for PVD are not needed. However, we recommend annual routine checkups to ensure the retina remains healthy and in good condition.
If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with PVD, it's important to be evaluated promptly by a seasoned retina specialist. At Retina Consultants of Houston, we invite you to call one of our Houston-area offices so we can provide a thorough eye exam. PVD is a very common eye condition among the elderly that can be diagnosed and treated by our eye surgeons and restore your vision to health.