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Posterior vitreous detachment - Vitreous floaters


At birth, the vitreous humour adheres to the retina. At some point in one’s lifetime, the vitreous detaches spontaneously. This is called posterior vitreous detachment. It is a perfectly normal physiological evolution.


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In its initial phase, posterior vitreous detachment causes flashes of light at the periphery of the visual field. As the condition proceeds, ‘floaters’ (formally called myodesopsia) appear in the eye and start increasing in number.

The condition is characterized by the apparition within the vitreous humour of some opaque bodies, standing between the light and the retina and therefore projecting shadows on it, which usually have the shape of hair or flakes.
These shadows never leave your visual field, even when trying to look away. They are acutely perceptible when looking towards a white surface.
These floaters do not diminish your visual acuity, but they can cause discomfort.
This benign physiological phenomena is frequently experienced by patients over 70, although it can appear in younger patients (as soon as 20 y.o.), among those who suffer from high myopia in particular.
Vitreous detachment can cause a retinal detachment. The patient will therefore have to proceed to a fundus examination to check that there is no such danger.


We will proceed to a retinal periphery examination to control that the vitreous detachment did not tear the retina. In case the retina has been torn, a treatment with Argon Laser will prevent a retinal detachment following the vitreous detachment.
In some very rare cases, a treatment using YAG Laser (vitreolysis) will allow us to ‘cut-off’ some of the floaters which might be causing too much discomfort.

A surgery intervention called vitrectomy, which consists in removing the vitreous, is something that we only do exceptionally.