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Vitreous Detachment

What is Vitreous Detachment?

Vitreous is the substance that helps the eye keep its round shape. It has millions of fine fibers that attach to vitreous to the outer surface of the retina. Over time the vitreous shrinks and the fibers begin to pull at the retinal surface until a breakage occurs. This is called Vitreous Detachment.

Causes/Risk Factors   

This is a common condition for people over the age of 50 and older. If you are nearsighted, then you are at an increased risk. This is because the vitreous gel for nearsighted people is already thinner and more susceptible to shrinkage. If you have/had vitreous detachment in one eye, you are much more likely to get it in the other one as well.


One of the most common symptoms is the increased number of “floaters,” or the specks that appear with your vision. These may be followed by sudden flashes of light in your peripheral vision. These light flashes do not always occur, so it is possible you may not notice that you had a vitreous detachment. The best way to figure out if you had/have a vitreous detachment is to receive a comprehensive eye exam from a licensed eye doctor.


In some cases, no medical treatment needs to be undergone as the vitreous detachment will not always affect vision. In more severe cases, a Vitrectomy may be needed. This is the process of removing the vitreous gel and using a laser to treat the tear in the retina. Although this may sound extensive, it is fairly common and very effective.  

While the detached vitreous will not directly affect vision, it may lead to Retinal Detachment or a Macular Hole. Both of these conditions are medical emergencies, and need to be treated by an eye doctor as soon as possible.