Posterior Vitreous Detachment


What is a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)?
The center of the eye is filled with a gel-like substance called the vitreous. As part of the normal aging process, the vitreous can become more liquefied and shrink. This process begins in our 30’s and 40’s, but is more common in our 60’s. If the contraction has enough force, the vitreous can separate from its attachment to the retina. This is called a posterior vitreous detachment, or PVD.


What are the Signs and Symptoms of PVD?
Patients may notice flashing lights and floating spots. The floaters appear as tiny specks that float in your field of vision. They may also appear as cobwebs. The flashing lights are due to the vitreous pulling on the retina. They may seem like sparklers or lightening streaks. A PVD is a normal occurrence and requires no treatment. Eventually the flashes stop and the floaters become less noticeable. The floaters may never disappear completely, but do become less noticeable.


What should I be worried about if I have a PVD?
In some patients the vitreous is especially adherent to the retina, and as it pulls away from the retina in a PVD, it can cause a tear in the retina. This tear can lead to a retinal detachment, which is a potentially blinding condition requiring treatment. The symptoms of a PVD may be the same as a retinal tear. Therefore, patients with flashing lights, new floating spots, or a shadow in their vision need a dilated exam by their eye doctor as soon as possible.


For more information about PVD, you may wish to visit/contact:

National Eye Institute (NEI)
Facts About Vitreous Detachment