Vitreous detachment — see the light?

Apr 3, 2018

What is vitreous detachment?

Most of the eye’s interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps the eye maintain a round shape.

There are millions of fibers intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina, the eye’s light-sensitive tissue.

As we get older, the vitreous in our eyes becomes more watery, less gel-like and isn’t able to keep its usual shape. This causes it to move away from the retina at the back of the eye towards the centre of the eye

This is a vitreous detachment.

Although vitreous detachment causes some frustrating symptoms it doesn’t cause pain, harm the eye or cause permanent loss of vision. In fact, it is quite a common eye condition.

What are some vitreous detachment symptoms?

There are three main symptoms that could be the first signs of a vitreous detachment:

  • Floaters
  • Flashing lights
  • Blurring of your vision

Floaters

Have you ever closed your eyes and “seen” something float by, almost worm or snake-like? These are floaters, which are caused by debris in the vitreous gel casting a shadow on the retina. The brain sees this as an object floating around space. Floaters are common and most people can expect to get them as they get older.

Flashing lights

Flashing lights generally occur around the edges of your vision. These flashing lights occur when the retina is stimulated by something within the eye rather than the light entering the eye.

Blurring vision

Your vision can become blurred for many reasons, but if your vision suddenly becomes blurred at the same time as you experience the symptoms mentioned above, it could be a vitreous detachment.

If you experience any of these symptoms it’s important that you make an appointment to see us as soon as possible and within 24 hours.

What are some treatments?

As previously mentioned, most cases of vitreous detachment are not serious. You’ll find that the symptoms can be frustrating in the short-term, but will typically settle down over time.

There is no evidence to show that eye exercises, diet changes or vitamins can help — a vitreous detachment will usually get better on their own over time

However, if the symptoms persist please don’t hesitate to get in touch. It is really important for you to confirm that the symptoms are not related to retinal detachment, which is a more serious condition.

Unsure of whether you are experiencing vitreous detachment or not? Please email Jenny at jenny@gp-optom.co.nz to discuss your situation. We are here to help.

 

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