Retinal Tears and Detachments


When your eyes are working well, it's as easy to take them for granted.  But a tear or a detachment of your eye's retina (the light-sensing lining of the eye) can cause troubling vision changes.  It can even lead to permanent vision loss.  Fortunately, most retinal problems can be treated.

Symptoms of a Tear or Detachment 

Retinal tears and detachments are painless.  You may not even realize something is wrong.  More often, though, you notice sudden vision changes.  These include:

  • Floaters (dark spots)
  • Flashes (bursts of light)
  • 'Cobwebs' in your vision
  • Blurry Vision
  • A shadow of 'curtain' across your vision

Who is at Risk?

Anyone can have a tear or detachment.  Factors that can make a tear or detachment more likely include:

  • Nearsightedness
  • Older age
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Trauma to the eye
  • Thinning or weakness of the retina
  • Diseases, such as diabetes
  • Family history of retinal tears or detachments

What You Can Do 

If you have symptoms of a tear or detachment, see your eye doctor right away.  He or she will assess your vision changes and help you decide on treatment.  In some cases, emergency treatment may be needed to save your sight.  By working with your doctor, you can do what's best for your eyes.