The eyeball Is a hollow organ connected to the brain by a hollow tube of insulating-like material. The optic nerve runs through this tube, joining our eye to the brain. On entering the eye, the optic nerve spreads out in a thin layer of nervous tissue - the retina - and covers the inside of the eye like wallpaper.
The inside of the eye is filled with a jelly-like material called the vitreous. This jelly-like material is transparent and helps the eyeball to maintain its shape.
Disorders of the vitreous body are related to an aging process in which the jelly begins to liquify at the top, resulting in a mixture of liquid and jell. At the juncture of the solid and liquid, debris tends to gather, resulting in "floaters" or "small cobwebs" that we see which move as we move our eyes.
When the jelly-like vitreous begins to liquify and collapse, it may tug on the nervous-tissue lining of the eye (the retina) and produce symptoms of flashes of light. This symptom should be carefully evaluated, because the collapsing vitreous may be adherent to the retina in spots and result in localized tears in the retina. This opens a hole in the wallpaper-like retina; the liquid portion of the vitreous is sometimes able to seep through the hole and peel the retina away from its blood supply in the wall of the eye. This results in a retinal detachment with usually severe loss of vision.
If abnormal holes are found in the retina and are caught early enough, the laser can frequently be used to seal them and decrease the danger of retinal detachment. If a detachment has actually started, it may be necessary to recommend more extensive surgery to remedy the problem.