The management of posterior vitreous detachment by an optometrist

  • Amritpal Chaggar

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisOphthalmic Doctorate


Acute posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is the most common cause of retinal detachment. The management of this condition can be variable and often undue reliance is placed upon associated signs and symptoms which can be a poor indicator of pathology. Optometrists undertake a number of extended roles, however involvement in vitreo-retinal sub-specialities appears to be limited. One objective was to directly compare an optometrist and ophthalmologist in the assessment of patients with PVD, for this a high level of agreement was found (95% sensitivity, 99% specificity, 0.94 kappa).
A review of 1107 patients diagnosed with acute PVD that were re-evaluated in a PVD clinic a few weeks later was undertaken to determine whether such reviews are necessary. One-fifth of patients were found to have conditions undiagnosed at the initial assessment, overall 4% of patients had retinal breaks when examined in the PVD clinic and a total of 7% required further intervention. The sensitivity of fundus examination with +90D and 3-mirror lenses was 85-88% for detecting retinal breaks and 7-85% for pigment in the anterior vitreous for the presence of retinal breaks. Therefore patients with acute PVD should be examined by indirect ophthalmoscopy with indentation at the onset of PVD and 4-6 weeks later.
The treatment of retinal breaks with laser retinopexy is performed by ophthalmologists with a primary success rate 54-85%. In a pioneering development, an optometrist undertaking this role achieved a comparable primary success rate (79%).
Mid-vitreous opacities associated with PVD are described, and noted in 100% of eyes with PVD. The recognition of this sign is important in the diagnosis of PVD and retinal breaks. The importance of diagnostic imaging is also demonstrated, however the timing in relation to onset may be vital.

Date of Award29 Jun 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJames Wolffsohn (Supervisor)


  • Competency
  • optometrist
  • retinal breaks
  • vitreous opacities

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