Vitreous detachment & floaters

The vitreous is a gel, made mostly of collagen fibers, that fills the part of the eye behind the lens and in front of the retina. Unless there’s a problem, the vitreous is transparent and lets light pass through it, on to the retina (the part of the eye that converts light into information for the brain that enables you to see).

As you age, the gel starts to become less homogenous – collagen fibers tend to clump together. These look like shadows or ‘floaters’ under certain light conditions; patients often describe them as ‘patches’, ‘strands’ and even ‘small flies’.

The vitreous is contained inside a membrane – much like air is held inside a balloon. The vitreous ‘balloon’ is inflated inside the eye, and it’s anchored to various points inside the eye.

Floaters

Floaters are usually harmless, and are more common in people aged over 50 years or in those with myopia (short sightedness). Unless lots appear at once, or they are associated with flashes of light (see retinal tear and retinal detachment), they aren’t dangerous, but they can be bothersome. 

Floaters explained

Floaters can be surgically removed by surgery in which the vitreous is removed entirely and replaced with a clear saline solution (a procedure called vitrectomy), but this increases the risk of developing cataracts early. Therefore, the operation is only performed if the floaters are massive and very central, and strongly interfere with reading or writing.

Posterior vitreous detachment

As people age – and this will happen to everyone, eventually – the vitreous starts to shrink (like a balloon) over a period of a few days to several weeks. This usually happens when people are aged 40–60 years old, although in the case of myopes (short-sighted people), this process can occur much earlier. Normally, this (completely natural part of aging) has no adverse effect on the eye, but during this period, there’s a risk that the shrinking vitreous might pull on the retina, and create a retinal tear. If the tear permits fluid to enter the retina, this can go on to cause what’s called a retinal detachment – which is an ophthalmic emergency needing immediate treatment.  Just before a retinal detachment takes place, people tend to see flashing lights in the affected eye, and often see an abundance of floaters.

How to recognize a retinal tear

As long as you see flashing lights, the posterior vitreal detachment is still ongoing. While this is happening, we will examine your retina at regular intervals to be sure there is no retinal tear.

In between our ophthalmological inspections, you should be vigilant to changes in your vision in the affected eye. Proceed as follows:

If you see flashing lights in your right eye, close the other (left) eye. Now look at an object and move your hands to the outstretched arms on the outside of your field of vision. Do you see your fingers out of the corner of your eye? Repeat the test with the other eye. The fields of vision of the individual eyes should be similar.

Retinal tear explained

  • Perform this check every 1–2 days. If you notice any of the following changes, contact us on the same day or (if we are not available for holidays or weekends) at a hospital emergency room
  • During the self-test, your field of vision appears restricted.
  • If you see a change like a “black curtain” at the edge of your field of vision.
  • There are suddenly many floaters/strands/black ‘flies’ in your field of vision.
  • The sight of your eye changes suddenly.
  • The frequency of lightning suddenly increases.

 

Last, but not least

Remember: vitreal detachment is a natural process. Everybody experiences it in the course of their life and with only a few eyes go on to have a retinal tear. However, if this does occur, we can perform a laser treatment and “weld” the crack. But these tests are an important precautionary measure.

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Augeninstitut ELZA
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Thomas S.
Thomas S.
09:37 07 Jul 21
My left eye had to be operated on because of a cataract. As I had an Artiflex lens implanted a few years ago, it had to... be removed first before a modern lens could be implanted to correct the cataract. Prof. Hafezi treated me in an very competent and friendly manner. I am very happy with the result.read more
Selma A. Rahim
Selma A. Rahim
19:45 02 Jul 21
Dr. Hafezi.. the KING OF CXL🤴
Gianluca Ricci
Gianluca Ricci
12:46 10 Apr 21
Great team and service!
rehaneyecare
rehaneyecare
05:36 08 Apr 21
Excellent surgeon
Steven H.A
Steven H.A
16:13 11 Jan 21
Prof. F. Hafezi s expertise is enormous and he has a very pleasant and calm nature which gives the patient... security.Thank youread more
Online Commande
Online Commande
09:19 05 Dec 20
Totally creepy, very arrogant Prof.He just want your money.It may explain, why this Prof. is not in the center of the... city of Zürich and why he has been thrown away from University of Geneva.read more
Elena Churilova
Elena Churilova
10:06 17 Nov 20
At the moment, 3 months have passed since the moment I made laser vision correction in this clinic. and I can say that... I am happy that I chose this particular clinic and Prof. F. Hafezi. The entire staff of the clinic is very friendly, treats patients with sympathy and patience if they are nervous before surgery (my big gratitude to Aida Alili for all support and patience). The doctor Hafezi and other doctors of the clinic are very professional and ready to explain to you as many times as you need. I can only recommend!read more
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Augeninstitut ELZA
4.7
Based on 80 reviews
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