What is the vitreous?

The vitreous is a clear gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye. It is attached to the retina, the nerve layer which lines the back of the eye.

What is a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)?

When individuals reach middle age (usually 50 years and over), the vitreous gel can pull away from the retina causing a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a common cause of flashes and floaters.

What are the symptoms?

  • Floaters: are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, and whilst they look like they are in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside. Floaters can have different shapes and the symptoms include seeing small specks or clouds moving in your visual field, or seeing dots, circles, lines or “cobwebs.”


  • Flashes: when the vitreous gel rubs or pulls on the retina you may see what looks like flashes of light and/or seeing “stars”. These can appear off and on for several weeks or even months.

How is it diagnosed?

  • Dr Hilford will undertake a dilated examination of your eyes and tests such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and/or fluorescein angiography will be required.

    What are the treatment options?

    In an uncomplicated PVD no treatment is required. However, a PVD may be associated with a retinal tear which may require treatment.