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AIM—To establish whether the presence of a retinal break can be predicted either by the presence of a positive Shafer's sign (pigment granules in the anterior vitreous) or symptomatology in patients presenting with an acute posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).
METHODS—200 eyes of 200 phakic patients with a symptomatic PVD of less than 1 month's duration underwent documentation of symptomatology and examination of the anterior vitreous for the presence of pigment granules. Indentation ophthalmoscopy was then carried out by an experienced vitreoretinal surgeon with no knowledge of the symptomatology or anterior vitreous gel examination findings. A second prospective group of 115 consecutive patients were assessed in a similar manner before primary rhegmatogenous retinal detachment repair.
RESULTS—In 200 eyes presenting with an acute PVD, 25 were found to have an associated retinal break, 23 of which were also Shafer positive. In 115 eyes presenting for retinal detachment repair, 111 had an associated PVD and were found to be Shafer positive. Symptomatology was not predictive of an associated retinal break in the PVD group or in those presenting with a retinal detachment.
CONCLUSION—The increased use of Shafer's sign is recommended as a valuable aid in determining which patients require urgent referral for an expert retinal examination. It is not possible to predict those patients with a retinal break secondary to PVD on the basis of symptomatology alone.