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vitreous degeneration

noun. a change that occurs in the vitreous humor (or vitreous fluid) in the eye, as the vitreous humor changes from a thick vitreous gel to a thin liquid substance

Normally, the vitreous humor is a transparent gel that helps with clarity of vision and maintaining the shape of the eye. As we age, the vitreous gel may start to shrink and become more of a liquid consistency; it will no longer be able to fill the space of the eye, and the vitreous humor can detach from the retina, which is the light-sensing nerve layer at the back of the eye. The fibers connecting the vitreous humor to the retina will start to pull away as this happens. 

Initially, with mild vitreous degeneration, the most common symptoms are vitreous floaters, which look like small cobwebs in the field of vision. 

With some individuals who experience significant degeneration, a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) can happen. A posterior vitreous detachment is the complete detachment of the vitreous humor from the retina. Risk factors for PVD include aging, advanced myopia, recent eye surgery, and eye trauma. Although PVD rarely leads to vision loss, it can lead to flashes of light and an increase in floaters.

A vitreous hemorrhage (blood in the vitreous cavity) can happen when a blood vessel tears away with posterior vitreous detachment. A vitreous hemorrhage will give the individual flashes and floaters in the field of vision. Some vision loss may occur due to the presence of blood in the visual field.

Other complications that can occur with vitreous degeneration include retinal tears or a retinal detachment. A torn retina can occur as the fibers on the vitreous humor pull away from the retina. A sudden increase in the amount of flashes and floaters can be indicative of a retinal tear or detachment. If the torn retina is not treated promptly, a complete retinal detachment can occur.

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