What Causes Retinal Tears and Detachments?

Retinal tears and detachments occur when the retina (the inner lining of the eye) is damaged. The retina is the thin layer of light-sensing nerve cells lining the inside back of your eye. It converts light rays into signals which are sent through the optic nerve to your brain where they are recognized as images. Without it, we are unable to see.

A retinal tear is a small break in this inner lining. Retinal tears can have many causes and can happen at any age. Aging, eye trauma, eye surgery or being drastically nearsighted may cause retinal tears or detachments. If not treated properly, a retinal tear may lead to retinal detachment.

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position of lining the inside eyewall. The retina does not work when it is detached. All vision will end up blurry. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes irreversible blindness unless it is treated.

A common cause of retinal tears and detachments is posterior vitreous detachment. A clear gel called vitreous fills the middle of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may pull away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye. Usually the vitreous separates from the retina without causing problems. However, sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through the retinal tear. As fluid accumulates between the retina and the eye wall, the retina detaches from the eye wall, much as wallpaper can peel off a wall.

The following conditions increase the chance of having a retinal tear or detachment:

  • Nearsightedness
  • Previous cataract surgery
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe injury
  • Previous retinal detachment
  • Family history of retinal detachment

Retinal tears and detachments can cause serious vision issues and require proper treatment. To schedule an exam with Dr. Haguewood in Spartanburg, contact Palmetto Eye & Laser Center at 864-583-6381 or palmettoeyeandlaser.com today.