Posterior vitreous detachment describes the condition when the vitreous in the posterior chamber of the eye comes away from the inner lining (retina) of the eye. This normally occurs as a result of the aging process.
The vitreous, which is normally attached to retina, liquefies and collapses with age. As this occurs it pulls on the retina and creates traction. This traction is perceived by the brain as flashing lights which can be seen in the peripheral vision. These are characteristically like small arcs of white light. Patients also experience "floaters" in the vision. These are due to opaque and translucent condensations within the vitreous.
Eventually, the vitreous comes away from the retina and the flashing lights settle; the floaters, however, do not go away, but their appearance may change. This process in itself is not a problem and occurs in many people, however, the traction can sometimes cause a tear in the retina. This is a serious medical problem and requires urgent treatment by a vitreo-retinal surgeon.
If the symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment occur the eyes need to be checked for potential tears in the retina.