• What Is a Torn Retina?

    Written By:
    Reviewed By: G Atma Vemulakonda, MD
    Jun. 17, 2020

    A torn retina is a serious problem that makes your vision blurry. It is when the retina has a tear or hole, like a rip in cloth. A torn retina often leads to a more serious condition called a detached retina. This is where the retina is lifted away from the back of the eye. A torn retina must be treated right away to avoid further vision problems.

    How Do You Get a Torn Retina?

    As we get older, the vitreous in our eyes starts to shrink and get thinner. Usually the vitreous moves around on the retina without causing problems. But the vitreous may stick to the retina and pull hard enough to tear it. When that happens, fluid can pass through the tear and lift (detach) the retina.

    When the retina tears, you may suddenly see flashes of light or floaters. Sometimes blood can leak into the vitreous. This is called a vitreous hemorrhage, and it can cause a large number of floaters.

    With a torn retina, fluid may leak through the hole and detach the retina. This serious problem must be treated right away or you could lose vision.

    Who Is at Risk for a Torn Retina?

    Here are some things that put you at risk for having a torn retina:

    Early Signs of a Retinal Tear

    A torn retina has to be checked by an ophthalmologist right away. Otherwise, your retina could detach and you could lose vision in that eye. Call an ophthalmologist immediately if you have any of these signs:

    • You see flashing lights. Some people say this is like seeing stars after being hit in the eye.
    • You notice many new floaters.
    • A shadow appears in your peripheral (side) vision.
    • A gray curtain covers part of your field of vision.