What is Vitreous Disease?
Before we determine the cause and cure for vitreous disease, we first must understand what vitreous is and its significance to the clarity and function of the eye. The vitreous is the watery, gel-like substance that fills the center of the eye giving the eyeball its spherical shape. The vitreous is responsible for several functions including protection of the eyes, maintaining sharp vision and focus as light passes through the coating to the macula, and counteracting retinal detachment. Vitreous disease occurs when the vitreous gel is affected due to a retinal tear or detachment. As eyes age, the vitreous gel can begin to shrink and lose liquid consistency no longer filling the space of the eye. This can cause the vitreous humor to detach from the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer at the back of the eye. Signs and symptoms of vitreous degeneration which leads to retinal detachment include sudden development or increase in eye floaters, flashes of light within the eye, a dark shadow or gray curtain closing in on the sides of the eye or blurred vision.
The two most common types of vitreous disease are posterior vitreous detachment and vitreous hemorrhage. Posterior vitreous detachment is not a serious condition by itself. It is not usually painful, nor does it cause vision loss. Posterior vitreous detachment affects the vision with dark specks or flashes of light. The positive news is that often these side effects go away on their own within days or weeks with nearly 85% of people experiencing no other problems related to posterior vitreous detachment. However, any effect to the vitreous can lead to a macular hole, macular pucker, retinal tear, or retinal detachment and may require surgery. For this reason, any increase in eye floaters requires an examination and treatment from an eye doctor to determine the extent of the effect on the vitreous and subsequent damage to the retina. Vitreous hemorrhages are varied but usually include painless, unilateral floaters and/or visual loss. Early or mild hemorrhage may be described as floaters, cobwebs, haze, dark shadows or a red hue. Vitreous hemorrhage occurs because of abnormal vessels that are prone to bleeding, normal vessels that rupture under stress, or extension of blood from an adjacent source. This usually happens because of diabetic retinopathy which can cause blood vessels to grow on the retina. These blood vessels can break easily and begin to leak into the eye. Patients who have experienced vitreous hemorrhage report that vision is worse in the morning as blood has settled into the back of the eye covering the macula. Bleeding from a vitreous hemorrhage can also cause scar tissue to form near the back of the eye. This can pull the retina away from the back lining of the eye, requiring additional treatment to keep the retina from detaching and permanently damaging vision.
Vitreous diseases can quickly lead to a retinal tear or detachment both of which are considered serious and require immediate medical attention. Preserving your vision is necessary and best acquired with a thorough examination from a trusted eye care professional. Contact Associated Retina Consultants today to schedule your appointment at 602-242-4928 or visiting online at WEBSITE.