A vitreous detachment is a common condition for people over 50 and very common for those who are 80 and older. People who are nearsighted also are more likely to have a vitreous detachment.

What causes a vitreous detachment?

  • Most of the eye's interior is filled with vitreous.
  • Millions of fine fibers are intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina.
  • As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks and these fibers pull on the retinal surface.
  • Usually the fibers break. The vitreous separates (detaches) and shrinks from the retina.

Symptoms of vitreous detachment

As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes stringy. These strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. They look like floaters that cross your field of vision.


A vitreous detachment doesn't threaten your sight, but occasionally some of the fibers pull so hard they create a macular hole on the retina or lead to a retinal detachment. If the macular hole does not heal itself, surgery may be necessary to improve vision.

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