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The Causes of Retinal Tears: What Patients Should Know

Mar 30, 2017 @ 12:00 PM — by Retina Associates, P.A.

A man undergoing an eye examThe retinas are essential for proper vision, yet they can be quite delicate. A number of different issues can affect retinal health, which in turn can result in vision loss and even blindness. Our team of Kansas City eye care specialists always strive to prevent vision loss through proper diagnosis and treatment of retinal conditions.

Retinal tears are one potential cause of vision loss that must be taken very seriously. Let's go over the basics of retinal tears and discuss what can cause them.

What Is a Retinal Tear?

A retinal tear refers to an instance in which the retina has pulled away from its normal position at the back of the eye. Tears can increase the risk of retinal detachment, which means an increased risk of severe and even permanent vision loss.

How Is a Retinal Tear Different from Retinal Detachment?

In essence, it's a matter of degree. A retinal tear means that the retina is pulled from its regular position but is still partially attached. A detached retina means that the retina has been fully pulled away from its place at the back of the eye.

Common Causes of Retinal Tears

Some of the most common causes of retinal tears include the following:

  • Physical Trauma – Serious physical trauma, particularly blows to the face or head, can result in retinal tears and detachment. This can cover anything from car accidents to assaults and sports injuries.

  • Problems with the Vitreous – The vitreous inside of the eye is a gel-like substance. If the vitreous shrinks, which can occur with advanced age, it can pull part of the retina away from the back of the eye in the process, leading to tears.

  • Complications from Diabetes – Advanced or long-term diabetes can lead to serious problems with the blood vessels of the retina. Weakened tissue and leaking fluid on the retina make tears and detachment more likely.

Signs and Symptoms of a Retinal Tear

The most common signs and symptoms of retinal tears are flashes and floaters. Flashes refers to sudden flashes of light that affect your overall vision. Floaters are small spots and flecks that seem to be floating in your vision. Patients may also notice blurry or hazy vision in addition to flashes and floaters.

If you notice a pronounced number of flashes and floaters, it may be a sign of a retinal tear or retinal detachment.

Treatment for Retinal Tears

Thankfully retinal tears can be treated by eye care specialists. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent retinal detachment from occurring.

For minor, low-risk retinal tears, the issue may repair itself. This is common when symptoms are very minor.

For more serious retinal tears, cryotherapy or photocoagulation may be considered. Cryotherapy helps freeze the torn retina back in place while photocoagulation uses a laser to help weld the retina back in position.

Learn More About Retinal Tears

For more information about the causes of retinal tears and how they can be properly addressed, be sure to contact our team of advanced eye care specialists today. We will work closely with you and discuss these matters in much greater detail during your visit.

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