Retinal Tear

Retinal Tear

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of our eye. Light rays are focused onto the retina through our cornea, pupil and lens. The retina converts the light rays into impulses that travel through the optic nerve to our brain, where they are interpreted as the images we see. A healthy, intact retina is key to clear vision.

The middle of our eye is filled with a clear gel called vitreous (vi-tree-us) that is attached to the retina. Sometimes tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous will cast shadows on the retina, and you may sometimes see small dots, specks, strings or clouds moving in your field of vision. These are called floaters. You can often see them when looking at a plain, light background, like a blank wall or blue sky.

As we get older, the vitreous may shrink and pull on the retina. When this happens, you may notice what look like flashing lights, lightning streaks or the sensation of seeing “stars.” These are called flashes.

Retinal Tear or Detached Retina?

Usually, the vitreous moves away from the retina without causing problems. But sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through a retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye — much as wallpaper can peel off a wall. When the retina is pulled away from the back of the eye like this, it is called a retinal detachment.

The retina does not work when it is detached and vision becomes blurry. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that almost always causes blindness unless it is treated with detached retina surgery.

Causes of Torn or Detached Retina

Vitreous gel, the clear material that fills the eyeball, is attached to the retina in the back of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may change shape, pulling away from the retina. If the vitreous pulls a piece of the retina with it, it causes a retinal tear. Once a retinal tear occurs, vitreous fluid may seep through and lift the retina off the back wall of the eye, causing the retina to detach or pull away.

Vitreous gel, the clear material that fills the eyeball, is attached to the retina in the back of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may change shape, pulling away from the retina. If the vitreous pulls a piece of the retina with it, it causes a retinal tear. Once a retinal tear occurs, vitreous fluid may seep through and lift the retina off the back wall of the eye, causing the retina to detach or pull away.

Vitreous fluid normally shrinks as we age, and this usually doesn’t cause damage to the retina. However, inflammation (swelling) or nearsightedness (myopia) may cause the vitreous to pull away and result in retinal detachment.

Who is at Risk?

People with the following conditions have an increased risk for retinal detachment:

Nearsightedness
Previous eye surgery
Glaucoma medications that make the pupil small
Severe eye injury
Previous retinal detachment in the other eye
Family history of retinal detachment
Weak areas in the retina that can be seen by an ophthalmologist during an eye exam

 

Symptoms of Torn or Detached Retina

Sudden increase in size and number of floaters
Sudden appearance of flashes
Having a shadow appear in your peripheral vision
Gray curtain moving across your vision
Sudden decrease in vision

Retinal Detachment Vision Simulator

From the time I walked up to appointment desk, pre-op, to meeting Dr Welch the personnel were experienced, friendly, fast. Everyone answered every question. Most importantly, they treated me as though I was their only patient of the day, even though the patient area was full. First visit but CTEC will handle all my eye needs.

James A.

I was looking for a new ophthalmologist and my daughter referred me to Central Texas Eye Center, where she had been going for years. The experience was like night and day comparing it with my previous ophthalmologist. I really felt like the staff and doctor cared about me as opposed to just being a number…

Glenda R.

I had a great experience with my cataract surgery at CTEC. Everybody involved could not have been nicer.

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