Retinal Holes/Tears and Detached Retina

Certain changes in your vision can indicate serious damage to the retina, such as holes and tears or detached retina, an emergency situation in which you can permanently lose your vision.

Retinal detachment itself is painless, but there are almost always warning signs.
Seek medical eye care if you have the sudden appearance or gradual increase of:

• Floaters: Small bits of floating objects in your field of vision that look like spots or strings
• Flashes: flashes of light in the eye
• Shadow: a curtain or a shadow over a portion of your field of vision.


Retinal detachment can occur when the gel-like material (vitreous) shrinks or leaks through a hole or tear and collects underneath the retina, separating the retina from its blood supply and causing vision loss. This can be caused by a number of conditions, including:
• injury
• advanced diabetes
• an inflammatory eye disorder
• age-related changes to the retina

Risk Factors Can Include

• aging (more instances occur in those over 40)
• extreme nearsightedness
• previous retinal detachment in one eye
• family history of retinal detachment
• previous eye surgery (cataract removal), eye injury, or other eye disorder


To diagnose retinal detachment, your doctor may use an opthalmoscope (a special lens) or an ultrasound to examine or test for retinal holes, tears, or detachment.


Your doctor will explain the various treatment options that are appropriate for your condition. Retinal detachment is almost always treated with surgery (photocoagulation) or freezing (cryopexy). Other techniques include replacing the fluid (vitrectomy), injecting air or gas into the eye (pneumatic retinopexy), or indenting the surface of the eye (scleral buckling), which may be used in repair holes or in conjunction with surgery or freezing to reattach the retina.

Modern techniques can repair the retina in more than 90 percent of patients (source: but the visual outcome is unpredictable. Multiple procedures may be needed and the visual result may take months to be final.

Because of the potential loss of vision, contact an eye care professional immediately if you see a sudden or gradual increase in the number of floaters and/or light flashes, or a dark curtain over the field of vision.