Vitreous Detachment

About Vitreous Detachment

The vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eyeball, and when the vitreous separates from the retina (the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye), this is known as a vitreous detachment. A vitreous detachment is a common condition that usually affects people over age 50. However, in some cases, vitreous detachments can lead to macular holes or retinal tears that can then lead to a retinal detachment, and this can cause permanent vision loss and blindness.  

Risk Factors

As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks and then can separate from the retina, causing a vitreous detachment. Nearsighted people are at greater risk for vitreous detachment earlier in life. Those with a vitreous detachment in one eye are more likely to have one in the other eye.


There are many symptoms of vitreous detachment, such as:

  • An increase in floaters that look like specks or cobwebs that “float” in the field of vision
  • Tiny strand shadows
  • Flashes of light (lightning streaks) in your peripheral (side) vision

Treatments We Offer

There is usually no treatment for vitreous detachments, except if the presence of floaters becomes so bothersome that you wish to have them removed. In this case, Columbia ophthalmologists can perform a vitrectomy to replace the vitreous. However, if you have been diagnosed with a vitreous detachment, it is imperative to watch for signs of a retinal detachment, such as flashes of light, a shower of dots, and seeing a pitch-black curtain entering your field of vision. In this case, contact a Columbia ophthalmologist immediately so that we can treat your retinal detachment.

Why Choose Columbia?

Columbia ophthalmologists are experts in diagnosing and managing vitreous detachments to ensure they do not become retinal detachments. Our retinal specialists are at the forefront of retinal diseases and have the expertise and experience to make sure your eyesight is preserved.