Retinal Tears

What are retinal tears and detachments?

The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive nerve fibers and cells that covers the inside back lining of the eyeball. For the eye to see, light must pass through the lens of the eye and focus on the retina. The retina then acts like a camera, taking a picture and transmitting the image through the optic nerve to the brain.

The vitreous fluid is a gel-like material that fills the back of the eye and is attached to the retina. As the vitreous ages, it changes shape, and it may pull a piece of the retina with it, causing a retinal tear. Once a retinal tear occurs, vitreous fluid may seep between the retina and the back wall of the eye, causing the retina to pull away or detach.

Retinal tears and detachments are not visible from the outside of the eye; only a comprehensive eye exam can detect them.