What is a Posterior Vitreous Detachment?
A Posterior Vitreous Detachment or PVD is where the vitreous gel (the jelly inside your eye) shrinks with age and peels away from the retina. Although this is a benign condition, patients often experience flashing lights and floaters in their vision as this happens.
When young, the vitreous gel attached firmly to the back of the eye. As we age, this gel becomes thinner and more of a liquid consistency and then can peel away from the back of the eye. It is also much more common in people who are short sighted, due to the shape of the eyeball. The main symptom of a PVD is quick flashes of light in your peripheral vision. Sometimes they can be so quick that you may think it is your imagination. Then very occasionally they can be right in your sightline and can appear like little sparkles or fireworks. You may notice the flashes when you move your eyes quickly or when you move from dark into light conditions. They don’t last for a set amount of time; they may only last a day, but can also keep returning for a longer period of time.
Commonly with PVD you may also experience floaters, which form as the gel collapses in the back of the eye. Floaters are actually strands and knots that form from old cells in the vitreous gel which clump together. This causes shadows on the retina as light bounces off them which are perceived as little black spots or strands in your vision. You may only see these for a while, until the brain gets used to them being there, or if they disperse.
What to do
If you suspect you have had a PVD you must still see your Optometrist. This is because the main symptoms of flashing lights and floaters are also the main symptoms reported with a retinal tear or retinal detachment. Your Optometrist will be able to check your eyes to make sure the retina is not damaged. If you did have a retinal tear or detachment this is a much more serious condition and would need prompt referral to the hospital for treatment.
Focus Medical Eye Centre has the Optomap ultra wide-field retinal scanner which helps them to fully assess your eyes. This special technology allows them to image up to 90% of your retina which makes detecting small retinal tears or detachments much easier which otherwise could be missed.
If you have experienced new onset flashing lights or floaters please do not hesitate to contact our team on 01323 442062.