A posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a condition of the eye in which the vitreous membrane separates from the retina. It refers to the separation of the posterior hyaloid membrane from the retina anywhere posterior to the vitreous base (a 3-4mm wide attachment to the ora serrata.)
Broadly speaking, the condition is common for older adults and over 75% of those over the age of 65 develop it. Although less common among people in their 40s or 50s, the condition is not rare for those individuals. Some research has found that the condition is more common among women.
Schematic diagram of the human eye in English
When this occurs there is a characteristic pattern of symptoms:
Flashes of light (photopsia)
A sudden dramatic increase in the number of floaters
A ring of floaters or hairs just to the temporal side of the central vision
As a posterior vitreous detachment proceeds, adherent vitreous membrane may pull on the retina. While there are no pain fibers in the retina, vitreous traction may stimulate the retina, with resultant flashes that can look like a perfect circle.
If a retinal vessel is torn, the leakage of blood into the vitreous cavity is often perceived as a "shower" of floaters. Retinal vessels may tear in association with a retinal tear, or occasionally without the retina being torn.
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