Risk of PVD (Posterior Vitreous Detachment) after cataract surgery

Depending on pre-operative risk factors, about 30-50% of patients develop posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) after cataract surgery: which is a change in the vitreous protein behind the eye. It is not considered a complication PVDs occur in the majority of patients with normal aging. Symptoms of PVD include: floaters, flashes, sometimes a burst of floaters and flashes.

If the burst of floaters and flashes is sudden, persistent, and/or associated with a change of vision, worsening vision, or the “seeing” of a dark curtain coming over the vision, call your EYE MD emergently as it could signal that the vitreous protein change/PVD has pulled a piece of the retina off (as a hole or tear) and could potentially be leading to a retinal detachment which needs to be treated.

Sandra Lora Cremers, MD, FACS

Cataract Refract Surg. 2009 Jun;35(6):987-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2009.02.016.

Incidence of posterior vitreous detachment after cataract surgery.



To report the incidence of posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) after uneventful state-of-the-art small-incision phacoemulsification with implantation of a posterior chamber intraocular lens (PC IOL).


Department of Ophthalmology, Ludwigshafen Hospital, Ludwigshafen, Germany.


This prospective study evaluated the vitreous status of eyes by biomicroscopic examination, indirect binocular ophthalmoscopy, and B-scan ultrasonography before planned cataract surgery. Patients with the posteriorvitreous attached were included for follow-up and examined 1 week, 1 month, and 1 year after uneventful phacoemulsification with PC IOL implantation. The preoperative prevalence and postoperative incidence of PVD were determined by ultrasonography.


The study included 188 eyes of 188 patients (131 women, 57 men) with a mean age of 77.2 years. The mean spherical equivalent was -0.78 diopter (D) (range -8.75 to +6.25 D) and the mean axial length (AL), 23.22 mm (range 20.50 to 26.04 mm). Preoperatively, 130 eyes (69.1%) had PVD and 58 eyes (30.9%) had no PVD. Postoperatively, 12 eyes (20.7%) developed PVD at 1 week, 18 eyes (31%) at 1 month, and 4 eyes (6.9%) at 1 year. The vitreous body remained attached to the retina in 24 eyes (41.4%) 1 year after surgery. No preoperatively measured parameter (eg, age, refraction, AL, effective phacoemulsification time) was predictive of the occurrence of PVD after cataract surgery.


The occurrence of PVD after modern cataract surgery was frequent in cases in which the posteriorhyaloid was attached to the retinal surface preoperatively.
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