Will I go blind from posterior vitreous detachment?



November 25, 2022 - 12:08 PM

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Dear Dr. Roach: I visited an eye doctor, and I have a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). I am a 59-year-old female. Can you advise me? Can I go blind? I am very, very scared. — T.R.

Answer: The posterior chamber of the eye contains a large, gel-filled structure called the vitreous body, which is in contact with the retina, the part of the eye with the light sensors. There is a thin membrane that separates the vitreous from the retina, and this may become detached. Posterior vitreous detachments are common, especially as we age. This is not the same as a retinal detachment, because in a PVD, the retina remains in place, and so the vision is not necessarily threatened in a person with PVD, whereas a retinal detachment is an emergency that needs immediate care. Floaters and flashing lights can be symptoms both of a retina tear and a PVD, so these symptoms should be promptly evaluated.

The main concern with a PVD are complications, especially a tear of the retina, which happens roughly 15% of the time in people with a PVD. A retina tear usually happens at the same time as the PVD. Another complication is called an epiretinal membrane, a type of scar tissue that can sometimes affect vision. This occasionally needs surgery.

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