The posterior of the eye is filled with a jelly-like substance known as the vitreous. This jelly is loosely attached to the light sensitive nerve tissue the retina at the back of the eye.
The vitreous has a number of functions including:
• maintaining the shape of the eye
• acting as a shock absorber against damage from ocular trauma
• keeping the retina firmly in place contact with the back tissue structure of the eye
• transmitting light from the external environment onto the retina
As we get older, the jelly tends to shrink and become more liquid like and can pull on the retina, these pulls or tugs on the retinal tissue can cause flashes of light or floaters. A vitreous detachment occurs when this gel separates from the retina. Some vitreous detachments can cause tears or holes in the retinal tissue. One of the largest worries when a detachment of the vitreous occurs is the risk of developing a retinal detachment from these tears. It is important to visit your optometrist if you notice the signs of a vitreous detachment (increased numbers of floaters or light flashes in your vision) for though investigation of your eye health.
When the detachment of the vitreous has occurred without retinal tears, treatment is not usually required. This means the vitreous of the ageing eye will continue to shrink and liquefy and symptoms in time will usually become less noticeable. If a retinal tear has occurred, treating the retinal tear with surgery is usually recommended to prevent progression to a retinal detachment.
If you have noticed deterioration in your vision you should contact us and book an eye examination.