Living with posterior vitreous detachment

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is not a serious condition, although living with PVD can be frustrating. The floaters or cobwebs and flashes of light you see when PVD begins can be distracting and even bothersome. Our guidance below can help make living with this condition more manageable.

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How to cope with posterior vitreous detachment

Posterior vitreous detachment may be more noticeable in bright light, such as on sunny days or when looking at screens. That's because the shadow they cast on the retina at the back of the eye will be more noticeable in these conditions.

You may find the symptoms lessen by:

  • Wearing sunglasses on sunny or bright days.
  • Reducing the screen brightness on computers, phones and other devices you use.
  • Gently moving your eyes in circles to help move the position of the floaters in the eye.

With time, your brain will adjust to the effects, and you should begin to notice them less and less. The condition isn't painful and won't cause sight loss.

When you're diagnosed with posterior vitreous detachment, your optician or ophthalmologist will advise you about complications that may occur and the symptoms to be aware of.

One potential complication is the risk of a retinal tear, which can develop into retinal detachment. A detached retina can lead to vision loss if left untreated. You should always see your optician or ophthalmologist urgently if you notice:

  • A sudden increase in flashing lights
  • A sudden increase or worsening of the eye floaters in your vision
  • A dark shadow or curtain that moves across your sight
  • Worsening blurred vision

Carry on having regular eye examinations with your optometrist, who will check your PVD and your general eye health. Other eye conditions are more likely to develop as we age, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Regular eye exams will ensure your eye doctor can diagnose any new eye conditions as early as possible.

Posterior vitreous detachment and driving

Everyone who drives must meet the DVLA's minimum standards for eyesight, including visual acuity and field of vision. If your vision meets this standard, you should be able to continue driving, but it's best to speak to your ophthalmologist for advice. It might take some time for you to adjust to the new floaters and flashes of light in your vision.

If you have an eye examination, you may be given eye drops to dilate your pupils. You shouldn't drive until your eyes are back to normal, please check with your optometrist how long this will take.

Can you work with PVD?

Having posterior vitreous detachment shouldn't prevent you from working, just as you can carry on with every other aspect of life. Depending on the type of work you do, some adjustments may help you cope with the symptoms.

For example, floaters and flashes can feel worse in bright light or when using screens. If you do a lot of computer work, make sure your screen settings are adjusted to minimise brightness. In any case, we can all look after our eyes by following optometrists' advice about screen use, such as giving our eyes a break every 20 minutes.

Frequently asked questions

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Medically reviewed by: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists on 28/07/2022

Edited by: Nick Astbury FRCS FRCOphth FRCP
Clinical Associate Professor

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

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