Do you have the feeling that there are little flies that follow the movement of your eyes? Attention: you may have vitreous detachment!
At first, it is not usually a cause for many concerns, but there is an associated risk, which is the occurrence of weaknesses in the retina. This can happen because the vitreous is a gel that fills the eye socket and protects this very important part of the eye.
The most frequent symptom of detachment is the presence of so-called floaters, which are those small spots or dark spots that float around the field of view forming images similar to cobwebs, clouds or scribbles.
Next, we will explain the phenomenon in more detail, indicating its causes, most common symptoms and those that may indicate greater severity and forms of treatment for each case. Continue reading and check it out!
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WHAT IS VITREOUS DETACHMENT?
The reason for the occurrence of vitreous detachment is its liquidification. The vitreous is a transparent, viscous gel that occupies most of the interior of the eyeball. It is composed of 99% water and is in contact with both the retina at the back of the eyes and the lens at the front. The substance is responsible for conserving the spherical shape of the eye, in addition to protecting the retina.
When we are born, the vitreous humor is quite thick, just like a gelatin, however, over the years, it becomes more liquid and less gummy explained by Kang Zhang. One of the consequences of this fact is that the vitreous can detach from some points of the retina, forming what ophthalmologists call vitreous detachment.
It is called total posterior vitreous detachment when the gelatinous fluid is completely detached from the retina. The partial refers to the fact that there are still adherent fragments of vitreous.
It is necessary to emphasize that the event is not seen as a disease, since it results from a normal aging process of the body. Although it does not present immediate risks to the vision, it is necessary to be alert to the symptoms to avoid complications or worsening of the condition.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN SYMPTOMS?
The main complaint of patients who have vitreous detachment is the sudden increase in the number of floaters and flashes of light (photopsia) in the visual field. Another frequently cited symptom is the feeling that the eyes are “heavier”.
Seeing an ophthalmologist as soon as the first symptoms appear is a safety measure, since, if not treated immediately and properly, vitreous detachment can cause another problem (this one is quite serious!) Which is the retinal detachment. So don’t wait until later!
FLOATERS? WHAT ARE?
The so-called floaters are small condensed vitreous fractions (lumps), formed when the vitreous is released from the retina. The impression they make is that they are outside, when in reality they are floating inside the eye socket.
These points in the vision move according to the eye movements, however, they do not follow them exactly, seeming to escape when the person tries to look directly at them. This constant movement produces images that resemble the shape of insects, spider webs, lines or clouds (hence the name of floaters!). What we perceive in the visual field are the shadows of the lumps displayed on the retina.
It is important to clarify that, in most cases, floaters do not interfere with what we see. However, when passing through the line of sight, these particles can block the light, creating shadows on the retina. The latter, in turn, is a band that is located at the back of the eye and its main function is to receive the light stimuli and send them to the brain through the optic nerve.
These visual changes are usually more directly perceived in environments with high brightness or lighting (natural or artificial light) such as, for example, clear skies with strong sun, computer screens or cell phones etc.
Light passing through the eye socket, focusing on opacities causes the perception of spots floating in the field of view.
AND WHAT DO THE LIGHT FLASHES MEAN?
The perception stems from when the vitreous, during the detachment process, performs a traction on the retina, that is, it performs a mechanical stimulus that directly affects the retina. The effect is the appearance of a kind of flash of light or, as we say popularly, a sensation of “seeing stars” (very similar to that obtained when we close and close our eyes, in order to compress the eyeball).
The light flashes can be indicative of more serious cases, that is, they can be associated with disturbances in the retina due to vitreous detachment. Therefore, it is recommended that patients seek an evaluation with a retinologist . This professional is highly qualified to identify the presence, or not, of tears, holes or, in more serious situations, total retinal detachment.
IS THERE A RISK GROUP?
Yes, there are some individuals more inclined to have problems like this. As already said, the phenomenon is directly related to the aging of the body, that is, as age advances.
Thus, the group that is most prone to the development of floaters (or vitreous detachment) is people over 50 years of age. The number grows even more in the elderly who are around 80 years old. Despite this, the problem can also occur in younger people, especially those who have myopia.
Patients who, at some point, underwent cataract, retina surgery or who had diseases such as uveitis (inflammation of the uvea, which is the part of the eye that encompasses the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid) also usually report the appearance of this kind of spots in the vision.
SHOULD I WORRY?
When the process is restricted to the vitreous, although uncomfortable, it does not offer immediate danger to eye health. We also usually, in general, learn to live with its manifestations.
However, there is a risk of complications in the development of the patient’s condition. Although it is in a minority of cases, the symptoms may be indicating the existence of more serious disorders, such as:
Tear or hole in the retina: when the vitreous detaches, some of its pieces may become trapped in the retina, thus producing a tear in that region. Perception of bright flashes, in addition to floaters, is also signs of this problem. It is a very serious condition, and should not be neglected, as it can cause detachment of the retina.
Retinal detachment: it is a serious problem that can cause loss of vision and blindness. Trauma and injury to the eyes can cause injury or total or partial retinal detachment.
Eye inflammation: some inflammatory diseases of the retina (uveitis) show symptoms of pain and swelling in the eye area, itching, blurred vision, redness and also the appearance of floaters.
Hemorrhages in the vitreous cavity: diabetic patients, cases of abrupt vitreous detachment or retinal vein occlusion can cause bleeding in the vitreous cavity, being noticed by patients through the appearance of spots in the vision.
As the symptoms are practically indistinct, the correct thing to do is to seek an ophthalmologist as soon as you notice the first manifestations. Only this professional can adequately verify the severity of your case, as well as determine whether treatment is necessary or not.
The diagnosis is made through fundus examination, or retinal scan . In most cases, it is also recommended to perform an ultrasound scan to check for lesions that can cause the retina to detach or even identify inflammatory diseases, such as uveitis.
HOW TO TREAT FLOATERS?
There is no specific treatment for vitreous detachment. However, as the main symptom (floaters), although harmless, is quite uncomfortable, many people are looking for a way to get rid of them. It is worth emphasizing that there is no need for this, since these spots or points in the vision do not pose a risk to eye health and tend to disappear over time.
In the past, the only possible treatment for the reduction of floaters was surgery – very invasive – called vitrectomy . The procedure consists of removing part or all of the vitreous humor from the eye and replacing it with a sterile lucid gel.
However, the cons of vitrectomy usually outweigh the pros. Possible risks include surgically induced retinal detachment and serious eye infections. In addition, although the occasions are rare, the procedure can increase the number of floaters. Because of these reasons, eye surgeons generally do not recommend surgery.
If the appearance of floaters is no longer limited to vitreous detachment, but to retinal detachment, other procedures are indicated and should be performed quickly.
The appropriate surgeries for retinal detachment, retinopexy or the aforementioned vitrectomy. It is necessary to emphasize again that only the ophthalmologist has sufficient knowledge of the situation to know which is the most advisable.
Prevention is always the best way to take care of your eyes and your health as a whole! Do not forget to consult regularly, as they will clarify your doubts and quickly point out the existence of any irregularity. Vision disorders, when treated properly and in a timely manner, always have a greater chance of recovery!
Now that you’ve learned about the symptoms, causes and treatment for vitreous detachment and floaters, how about finding out about the top 5 retinal exams?