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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of posterior vitreous detachment (floaters and flashes)

Posterior vitreous detachment (floaters and flashes)

Posterior vitreous detachment (floaters and flashes)

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of posterior vitreous detachment (floaters and flashes)

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Posterior vitreous detachment is a disorder affecting the eyes wherein the vitreous separates from the retinal membrane. Vitreous is a jelly-like substance located within the eyeball between the lens and the retina. Retina is the inner-most layer of the eyeball. In this disease, the vitreous becomes more liquefied and it shrinks, thereby getting detached from the retina.

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Incidence, age and sex

The incidence of posterior vitreous detachment increases with increasing age. It is most commonly seen above 70 years of age.

Signs and symptoms

The primary clinical features of posterior vitreous detachment include complaints of flashes and floaters. The affected individual may experience yellow or golden light flashes, similar to lightening flash. Floaters are small, black particles of different shapes and sizes, which may be seen floating in front of the eyes.

The diagnosis of posterior vitreous detachment is established by clinical examination performed by an experienced ophthalmologist. Slit lamp may be used to see the vitreous humour inside the eye which helps in diagnosing this disease. Sometimes, an ultrasound of the eye may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention

The cause of posterior vitreous detachment is not quite clear. It may occur due to aging; but there are instances of it occurring in children also. Individuals with near-sightedness or previous history of eye surgery (like cataract surgery) or injury to eye, have increased chances of developing this disease.

Since there is no definitive causative factor as such, there seems to be no major preventive measures. One should, in general, take care to avoid getting an eye injury.

Complications

Posterior vitreous detachment may have complications like vitreous haemorrhage, retinal tear or even retinal detachment. This disease usually results in visual impairment. Rarely, it may progress to complete vision loss.

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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of posterior vitreous detachment (floaters and flashes)
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