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What is a PVD?

This is a common degenerative change that occurs in one or both eyes of most people after middle age. It is not usually caused by trauma of any kind.

Everybody has jelly filling the vitreous cavity of both eyes. This is called the vitreous humour. In a PVD this jelly has shrunken and dislodged forwards in the eye. As the jelly pulls off it stimulates the retina and causes flashes to be seen.

The retina lines the back of the eye like a tiny curved cinema screen and collects visual images to send to the brain. A thickening in the jelly cast shadows on the retina and is seen as floating shapes, or a cobweb in the vision.

What happens next?

A PVD is harmless. The flashes stop with time and although usually the occasional floater remains. Floaters become less obvious as the months go by.

Very occasionally the jelly pulls a hole in the retina. This is more serious and can cause bleeding or a retinal detachment. Retinal detachments are treated with surgery to prevent vision loss. Bleeding usually stops without treatment and eventually clears with time.

How do I recognise a retinal detachment?

If you have retinal detachment you may notice:

  • Increase floaters.
  • Increased flashing lights.
  • Black persistent shadows at the edges of vision in one eye.
  • Sudden drops in vision within 24 hours.

If any of the above occur you are advised to seek advice at a specialised eye clinic or hospital.

All information is for reference purposes only; if you have any concerns we recommend that you visit a qualified optician.

Related Eye Condition Links:

Corneal Abrasion;
Dry Eyes;
Iritis / Uveitus;
Laser Treatment;
Macula Degeneration;
Meibomian Cyst;
Short Sightedness.

Return to Information & Eye Tests.