Vitreous floaters are commonplace and tend to increase in number as the years pass. But the vitreous undergoes a more dramatic change with age. Often in the late 50s, it becomes more fluid and collapses from above, separating from its normal position against the retina and eventually lying as a contracted mobile gel in the inferior and anterior part of the cavity of the globe. The rest of the globe is occupied by clear fluid. This then is the process known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).
When this happens, the patient might complain of something floating in front of the vision and also the appearance of flashing lights. This is because the mobile shrunken vitreous sometimes causes slight traction on the retina. As a rule, the same symptoms are then experienced subsequently in the other eye. On the other hand, it is also common to find a detached vitreous in an elderly person's eye in the absence of any symptoms.
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