Vitreous Detachment Of The Eye: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Your eye’s center is filled with vitreous, a gel-like material which helps the eye sustain its round shape. Millions of fine fibers entwined within the vitreous material are attached to the surface of the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue of your eye. With age, the vitreous shrinks very gradually, and these fibers tug at the retinal surface. More often than not, the fibers break, thereby making the vitreous to detach from the retina. This is vitreous detachment.

Symptoms of a vitreous detachment are – floaters and flashes. A huge risk that you face when you have vitreous detachment is developing a retinal tear which can consequently result in retinal detachment.

It is very vital that you visit an ophthalmologist if you develop signs of a vitreous detachment.

The troublesome aspect of vitreous detachment is the floaters; they tend to improve with time. It may take about months for them to improve. If they persist, they have an impact on your day to day activities such as – reading or driving. Hence, you need to discuss with your health care provider and understand the treatment options for you.

What Causes Vitreous Detachment Of The Eye?

A vitreous detachment is fairly common and generally afflicts people over the age of 50 years, and is very common after the age of 80 years.

Those who are near-sighted have a greater risk. Also, if vitreous detachment has been detected in one eye, then, you are prone to have it in the other as well, though it may not occur until several years later.

As you age, the vitreo-retinal fibers weaken. The vitreous goes through liquefaction. Within the vitreous material, pockets of fluid develop. Re-distribution of fluid in the vitreous changes it from gel to a more fluid mass which then collapses forwards and contracts. Consequently, it pulls away from the retina. When the vitreous separates from the retina, detachment occurs.

Symptoms Of Vitreous Detachment

As the vitreous starts shrinking, it becomes a little stringy, and the fibers throw small shadows on the retina which you notice as floaters – that manifest as tiny ‘cobwebs’ or dots which appear to drift around in your field of vision. When you try to look at these tiny shadows, they tend to rapidly flit out of the way.

An important symptom and sign of a vitreous detachment is a sudden increase in the number of floaters. Floaters are followed by light flashes in the peripheral vision. You may not notice a vitreous detachment, or you may find the floaters bothersome. Well, it is vital that you confer with your ophthalmologist promptly.

How To Deal With Vitreous Detachment?

  • Your ophthalmologist will diagnose the problem by a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Early diagnosis and timely management can help avert loss of vision.
  • Even though a vitreous detachment does not jeopardize vision, sometimes some of the vitreous fibers pull very hard on the retina and this can cause a macular hole or could trigger a retinal detachment. These conditions can lead to blindness and must be treated without delay.
  • Neglected, a macular hole or a retinal detachment can cause loss of vision permanently in the affected eye. If there is a sudden raise in floaters or an increase in flashes in peripheral vision, it essential that you have an ophthalmologist examine your eyes as soon as possible.