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On Saturday night while driving my car I noticed the abrupt onset of "light flashes" in the periphery of my right eye. I was seen by a well-qualified retinal opthomalogist today (Monday), who gave me a thorough exam and told me that I have a vitreous "collapse", but there was no tear of the retina.
The doctor told me that the "collapse" of the vitreous is common (I am 55 yrs old) and not to worry or restrict my activities absent a "crescendo" of the light flashes. I asked him specifically if this condition had any negative implications for diving, and he said no, because the eye is filled with liquid (vitreous) which is not compressible.
Do I have any reason to be concerned when diving with a vitreous collapse without a Retinal tear?:06:
Your doctor said not to worry, that your eye (and most of the rest of your body) is basically a liquid, hence incompressible.
I'm an ophthalmic photographer, not a doctor, but some of the following may help.
Vitreous humor is a clear, thin jelly forming about 80% of your eye. It's the substance that "inflates" your eye and maintains its spherical shape. It is contained by the hyaloid membrane. As one ages the vitreous can start to liquify and the hyaloid membrane can tear. This is what collapsed in your eye. Where the vitreous was once immobilized by the hyaloid, it is now moving more. The vitreous sort of sloshes against your retina, excites the retinal nerves, giving you the impression of flashes of light. Sometimes this process can cause retinal tears or detachments. It is more of a threat to near-sighted people (myopia) because their eyeballs are lengthened, leading to uneven stress on the retina.
The flashes may continue for a long time. If they get larger or really apparent in a brightly lighted room; if you see a dark spot form; if a bunch of floaters appear (a few are normal); or if a sudden area of distortion forms in your visual field, this could indicate a retinal tear or detachment. Seek help immediately. Be sure to follow up with yearly exams. Become familiar with your visual fields. Cover each eye separately then read some of the newspaper, see if there is any distortion or spots. If you notice anything have it checked out. Don't assume you have a cataract or just need new glasses.