What is Posterior Vitreous Detachment and is it Serious?

Any term that refers to the body and includes the word “detachment” can sound frightening. Posterior vitreous detachment is an eye condition that sounds far worse than it may be. In some cases, treatment never becomes necessary. In some cases. Because there is a slight chance that symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment could indicate a serious eye problem, it is critical that an ophthalmic exam takes place right away.

How to Spot Vitreous Detachment

The number one indicator of a potential threat to your eyesight is the sudden onset or increase in floaters. This visual phenomenon looks like tiny shapes or spots of light that drift across your visual field when you move your eyes from one object to another.

The reason that floaters occur is that the vitreous, or gel-like substance that fills the space between the front and the back of the eye, degrades. The vitreous is tethered to a base near the front of the eye by small collagen fibers. These fibers are also present at the back of the eye to secure the vitreous to the retina and the optic nerve.

Over time, collagen fibers throughout the whole body begin to break down, including in the eye. This deterioration of collagen leads to the liquefication of the vitreous. The gelatinous matter becomes somewhat unstable and fluid, causing contraction that may separate the vitreous from the back of the eye. Floaters signify the stringy strands of the degrading vitreous casting shadows on the retina.

Usually, floaters decrease spontaneously over a few months’ time and no further symptoms occur. The collagen fibers that once connected the vitreous to one of its bases break away and no permanent damage is done. Sometimes, though, the fibers do not break easily. Instead, they pull on the retina and pose a risk of tear or retinal detachment.

Very few people who experience posterior vitreous detachment also develop retinal problems. If the retina were to tear or detach, treatment would need to be administered right away to seal this part of the eye. This is often done with cryotherapy or laser therapy or, in some cases, surgery to reattach the retina. When conducted early, treatment for retinal tears and detachment is over 90 percent successful.

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PLLC is proud to serve patients in St. Paul, Blaine, Minneapolis, and other MN cities. For more information on our services, call (800) VRS-2500.

Vitreous Hemorrhage St. Paul MN

What is a Vitreoretinal Disease?

Vitreoretinal diseases are our specialty. This term does not describe a single condition, but a group of eye disease that affects the retina at the back of the eye and the vitreous fluid around it. A vitreoretinal disease may occur secondary to diabetes or another health problem. Conversely, aging may be the primary risk factor for some people affected by vitreoretinal disease.

Examples of conditions categorized as vitreoretinal diseases include:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinal tear or detachment
  • Macular hole
  • Diabetic retinopathy

Understanding Vitreoretinal Diseases

The retina is the lining at the back of the eye. This lining transmits light to the brain via the optic nerve and helps the brain identify what we see. At the center of the retina is the macula, where light focuses to make vision sharp and clear. Between the retina and the lens at the front of the eye, space is filled with vitreous fluid, which is clear and gel-like in consistency.

Vitreoretinal diseases are conditions that affect any one of these structures. Because the retina and macula are integral to vision, a disease in this part of the eye can temporarily or permanently diminish vision. Therefore, any symptoms related to vitreoretinal disease need to be evaluated by a retinal specialist as quickly as possible. Some retinal conditions may be detected during routine eye exams before symptoms become apparent. This is advantageous because it allows us the best possible opportunity to slow or stop the disease process.

Symptoms of vitreoretinal disease include:

  • Night blindness.
  • Floaters in the visual field, especially the sudden onset of spots.
  • Dimming in central or peripheral vision.
  • Flashes of light.
  • Severe eye pain.
  • Sudden vision loss.
  • Distortion of printed words when reading.
  • Distortion in central vision, such as wavy lines.
  • Extreme light sensitivity.

Treating Vitreoretinal Disease

Vitreoretinal conditions can be severe and may cause vision loss. In many cases, treatment is available to preserve vision and slow the progression of vision deterioration. Treatment methods are developed based on the type of retinal damage and the severity of the condition. In some cases, medication may be administered to support visual function. Sometimes, as in the case of retinal detachment, a minor surgical procedure may be necessary.

We are a Minnesota retinal specialist group serving areas including Duluth, Minneapolis, and more. To find an office near you, contact us today at (800) VRS-2500.