Retinal Detachment

Posterior Vitreous detachment (PVD):

The back of the eye is filled with a jelly-like substance known as the vitreous. As we age, the vitreous shrinks slowly and pulls off the back lining of the eye (the retina). This is called a PVD. Usually a PVD is simply an annoyance; however, you can develop more serious issues such as retinal tears or a retinal detachment.

You may also develop floaters and flashes with a PVD. Floaters are “specks” “squiggly lines” or “cobwebs” that float about in your field of vision. Flashes can be as sign of tugging of the vitreous on the retina – they appears as “flashes from a camera.”

PVD is a normal aging process, and there is typically no treatment for it.

Retinal Tears:

A tear in the retina can occur during a PVD where the vitreous is overly adhered to the retina. You may also develop flashes and floaters. A retinal tear must be treated as it can lead to a retinal detachment. Treatment usually involves a laser procedure performed in the clinic.

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Retinal detachment (RD):

A retinal tear can lead to a retinal detachment because fluid can pass through the tear lifting the retina from the back of the eye. A retinal detachment occurs when the retina moves from its normal position and floats in the back of the eye. If left untreated, an RD will result in severe vision loss and blindness.


Symptoms: Flashes, floaters, shadow over vision, decreased vision

Risk factors: Nearsightedness, thin areas in the retina, previous retinal detachment or family history, cataract surgery and severe eye injury

Treatment: There are several methods of treating retinal detachments. The goal is to return the retina to its normal position. Your doctor will decide which procedure is best for you.

  • Pneumatic retinopexy: A clinical procedure that requires laser and a gas bubble
  • Vitrectomy: Intraocular surgery that requires either a gas bubble or silicone oil
  • Scleral buckle: A belt is placed around the eye. It can be performed alone or in combination with a vitrectomy

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