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What Is Vitreous Degeneration?

Cats are almost as susceptible to peripheral vitreous degeneration as humans.
The vitreous is a gelatin-like substance located behind the lens.
Monitoring a patient's eyes is necessary in peripheral vitreous degeneration.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Vitreous degeneration, also known as peripheral vitreous degeneration (PVD), is an eye condition that can affect humans as well as other animals, notably household pets. With eye problems of this type, the vitreous is unable to properly function, allowing the retina to shift out of position when the head is shifted suddenly. A gelatin-like substance that is located behind the lens in the eye, the degeneration of the vitreous can lead to serious vision problems, up to and including blindness.

Along with humans, several species of animal can develop PVD. Dogs and cats are almost as susceptible to the condition as humans, and horses and pigs have also demonstrated a high risk factor for this type of eye disease. In many cases, the condition can progress to the point that the retina becomes detached.

The exact causes for vitreous degeneration are a matter of debate, but there does appear to be a link between this type of problem and the occurrence of uveitis, an inflammation of the eye, in dogs, cats, and horses. In addition, any injury that affects the integrity of the vitreous itself can lead to a decreased ability to protect the retina and hold it in place.

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Treatment in both humans and animals requires careful monitoring in order to track the progress. Ophthalmologists can sometimes make use of laser surgery to help stabilize the position of the retina, and this is especially true when the underlying cause for the eye problem is an injury of some sort. The surgery not only helps to prevent the retina from becoming detached, but also can make it possible for the vitreous to begin regenerating.

A key aspect of effective treatment involves regular eye examinations. In the case of pets, a breeding examination known as a CERF examination can sometimes identify the problem in its early stages. Early detection is very important, in that the beginning degeneration may be traced back to some type of ailment that can be treated, effectively stopping the degradation of the vitreous before it has a chance to progress to the point of affecting the position of the retina.

For humans, identifying the condition early on can help develop a course of treatment that may include lifestyle changes as well as the possibility of undergoing corrective eye surgery before any damage to the retina may occur. Only a trained ophthalmologist can properly diagnose and treat an eye disorder of this type.

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Discuss this Article

anon289216
Post 3

I was diagnosed with vitreous degeneration about 5 years ago. My doctor just listed the diagnosis on my problem list; I was given no information or explanation of the problem. I was only told that when I asked for Lasik surgery, the answer was no. The explanation was that my vision was changing too fast. With this additional information, I will be able to advocate for laser surgery and other treatments.

John57
Post 2

I had a dog that had vitreous degeneration in one of her eyes. My vet said in her situation, this was a congenital condition.

We noticed this when she was young, and he said if we didn't do anything, it could possibly lead to blindness in that eye.

We lived about 30 minutes from a vet school and hospital where they could do surgery on her. This was a fairly easy surgery, and she never had any problems after that.

This happened several years ago, and the surgery for my dog cost around $200. It would probably be more than that now, but I was glad we didn't just wait to see what would happen.

sunshined
Post 1

For many years I had trouble with vitreous floaters. Having floaters is a strange feeling, and I was told I would just have to get used to them and deal with them.

I finally found a doctor who would do laser surgery to get rid of the floaters. It has been wonderful and I wish I had done something much sooner.

These were never painful, but very annoying and I am glad I don't have to deal with them anymore.

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