WHAT CAUSES FLOATERS?

As mentioned in my last blog, posterior vitreous detachments or PVDs are common causes of vitreous floaters. Far less commonly, these symptoms can be associated with retinal tears or detachments that may be linked to PVDs.

But what leads to vitreous detachments in the first place?

As the vitreous gel fills the inside of the back of the eye, it presses against and actually attaches to the retina. Over time, the vitreous becomes more liquefied in the center. This sometimes means that the central, more watery vitreous cannot support the weight of the heavier, more peripheral vitreous gel.

Vitreous gel then collapses into the central, liquefied vitreous. While this occurs, the peripheral vitreous detaches from the inner back of the eye where the retina is located.

Eye floaters resulting from a vitreous detachment are then concentrated in the more liquid vitreous found in the interior center of the eye.

More than half of all people by the time they are 80 will have had a vitreous detachment.* If you are among the 40 percent of people with PVDs who also experience light flashes, then you have about a 15 percent chance of also developing a retinal tear.**

Light flashes during this process mean that traction is being applied to your retina while the PVD takes place. Once the vitreous finally detaches and pressure on the retina is eased, the light flashes should gradually subside.

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