The vitreous humor is a hydrated gel whose structure is maintained by a collagenous and mucopolysaccharide matrix.
As people age, this macromolecular network begins to liquefy and collapse.
The vitreous shrinks and vitreoretinal traction develops.
Eventually, the vitreous partly separates from the retinal surface which is known as posterior vitreous detachment.
In 10-15% of patients with symptomatic posterior vitreous detachment, a retinal flap, tear or hole forms as the vitreous pulls away from the retina.
Rhegmatogenous detachment occurs when liquid vitreous enters the subretinal space through a retinal break.
This creates a plane of dissection between the retina and retinal pigment epithelium.
Over time, the area of detachment increases as more fluid passes through the retinal break.