Floaters and flashes can be caused by posterior vitreous detachment (also known as PVD), when the vitreous gel inside the eye can no longer support itself as the eye ages.

The vitreous gel works like a scaffold for the retina and the inner wall of the eye.  This weakens from birth onwards and breaks down as we get older.

When the vitreous gel weakens, it will collapse and pull away from the retina.


What are the symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment?

When the vitreous breaks down, debris can be created which appear as floaters.  When a PVD occurs, patients can notice an increase in floaters and flashing lights.  These floaters can vary in shape and may look like cob webs or even small flies in their visual field.

Flashes of light may occur as the vitreous tugs and detaches from the retina.

How is posterior vitreous detachment treated?

For most individuals, the vitreous detaches from the retina without issue and no treatment is required as floaters settle down over time. However, some patients may experience retinal tears, which can lead to retinal detachment and sight loss.  If you are experiencing flashes of light or high numbers of floaters, we recommend an eye examination that will require eye drops to dilate your pupils and allow a thorough examination of the retina.

How are floaters treated?

If floaters continue to affect vision, a treatment call a floaterectomy can be performed to improve vision.  This is similar to a vitrectomy.