What is posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)?

Posterior vitreous detachment, also known as PVD, is a change in your eye which does not normally cause sight loss. It is very common and most of us will develop it at some point in our lives.

Although it can cause some frustrating symptoms, PVD does not cause pain, harm the eye, or change the way the eye works. In the vast majority of cases, PVD will not lead to long term changes in your vision and it is not a sign of a disease or eye health problem.

PVD can cause symptoms such as floaters, little flashes of light, or a cobweb effect across your vision. Some people get all three symptoms and others may only get one or two. Importantly, these same symptoms can be an indication of a more serious problem, such as a retinal tear, which needs urgent attention.

You will not be able to tell the difference between floaters and flashes caused by PVD or retinal detachment. The only way you can tell is to have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. If you have been diagnosed with a PVD, it is very unlikely that you will develop a retinal detachment.

Any worsening symptoms should be checked out urgently but the otherwise PVD process can take weeks or in some cases months.

For information on retinal detachment, see What is retinal detachment?

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