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What Causes Detached Retinas?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated Jan 28, 2024
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Detached retinas are caused when the retina becomes separated from the other layers of the eyeball. Since these areas of the eyeball are responsible for providing the retina with nourishment and support, this condition can lead to blindness if not treated. The disorder is relatively uncommon in the United States, with only about one in every 10,000 people having it.

The visual impairment caused by detached retinas depends on where they become detached. If they become detached near the macula, for example, the person may have an impairment in the middle of his or her visual field. If the detachment occurs near the outside edge of the retina, however, the vision loss may have the effect of a curtain shading one portion of the visual field. This is commonly referred to as the curtain effect. Other symptoms include seeing floaters, which are dark, floating shapes or bright, brief flashes of light.

There are many causes of detached retinas. Most are caused by a hole or a tear in the retina. As a result of the hole, the eye’s vitreous fluid leaks through and collects behind the retina. The pressure from the fluid slowly causes the retina to become detached from the eye.

Trauma to the head or face can damage the retinas as well. Aging can also lead to detached retinas, as the vitreous fluid changes in consistency and begins putting pressure on the retina. In this case, there is no way to prevent the detachment, which happen unexpectedly.

People who are severely nearsighted may also experience detached retinas. This is because the eyeball of an extremely nearsighted person is very long. This shape cause the vitreous fluid to place excessive stress on the retina.

Individuals who have undergone cataract surgery are also more prone to this condition. In fact, approximately 3% of those who have had the surgery will later have detached retinas. This is likely due to the vitreous fluid becoming watery inside the eye after surgery, rather than gel-like as it is supposed to be.

Men are also 50% more likely to develop detached retinas than women. In addition, those suffering from diabetes are at an increased risk. This is due to diabetic retinopathy, which is brought on by unusual or unstable levels of blood sugar.

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Discussion Comments

By anon946728 — On Apr 22, 2014

I am a Taurus, going to be 25 soon. I'm nearsighted in both eyes, and actually the right one is more severe than the left one. Knowing nothing about retina disease and trained in gym with lifting and other sorts of exercise for two months, retina got holes in the left eye and part of it detached. I went to hospital one week after I noticed firework like flash in eye corner and was operated on the next following week with scleral buckle.

I still worry quite a lot now, if I cough, sneeze, hit by someone in the head, lifting anything seems heavy.

By anon243919 — On Jan 30, 2012

My son was born October 2011, and diagnosed with retina detachment or ROP5 in his left eye and mild ROP in the right eye three months later. He is a Libra. I would like to ask parents out there who have the same problem. After having an eye operation for retinal reattachment, is it possible to restore the sight? Thank you and god bless!

By anon233435 — On Dec 06, 2011

I am a 19 year old male, and had my first detached retina surgery when I was 12 years old from trauma. The doctor put an elastic band around my eye, but it didn't work and detached again.

After that, they did laser surgery to put it back and inserted a gas bubble into my eye. Then on my 13th birthday I woke up with my eye completely full of blood and my vision was black, but it eventually went away. From the gas bubble and the blood, I formed a cataract and had cataract surgery and then had two laser procedures done on the cataract to clean it off because the blood kept coming back and sticking to my new lens.

By anon221152 — On Oct 10, 2011

I never had health issues, and I don't know how it happened, but one day, while I was out walking in the street, I sneezed loudly, and my right eye started to become dark, up to a point where it was total darkness. My vision came back in a matter of six hours. Has anyone heard of anything of the sort?

By anon211974 — On Sep 04, 2011

My name is Charlene and I am a Libra. I had RK done 17 years ago and it reduced my night vision and indoor vision significantly. I was not happy with the result and could never see well again, even with glasses.

Fourteen months ago, I had cataract surgery, hoping it would help me to see better. I could have waited, but the doctors said that if these were their eyes, they would have it done and that I would be happy with the results.

Because of the RK, it is difficult to get the right power of lens in the eye. They did not tell me that people who have had cataract surgery have a 30 percent chance of having a detached retina.

Last March my retina detached in my right eye. I had symptoms, but because of my RK doctors did not take them seriously, until the sun was setting in my eye.

It is now September and I am still not seeing well out of the right eye, and have an inflammation which is not going away. The drops to reduce it cause high pressure in the eye so it has become balancing act which we have not won yet.

Two weeks ago I had my left eye checked and a retinal tear was found. She lasered it and while in there, saw that I had a smaller older tear and some fluid had seeped through. That is probably what I was seeing which made me ask to have the eye looked at.

Now I am not seeing well out of either eye. Because of the RK, healing always takes a long time. I am interested in talking with others who have had RK and detached retinas and/or cataract surgery.

Does it take your eyes months to adjust? Do you see better in the mornings?

By anon200475 — On Jul 27, 2011

I am a leo and a high myope. I had a punch hole in my retina 2005 which got got zapped by laser. I was 56 then. Now I have cataracts in both eyes and I am really scared.

By anon154071 — On Feb 19, 2011

I just came across this blog so I'm not sure why the Astro. info? Anyway, would like to talk with anyone in their late 40s to 50 who has had retinal detachment after high dose chemo and or a stem cell transplant.

I lost sight in both eyes. They were able to restore right eye but not left. Left has a buckle on it and did have a "oil bubble" for a few years (that's another bad story). I'm trying to find out why a late forties male would have detachment in both eyes after chemo. Doctors told me there is no connection. Help!

By anon141243 — On Jan 09, 2011

I am a Pisces and i had a detached retina at the end of last year in my left eye. It was very close to the Macula but i had the operation just in time to save my sight. I am 28 years of age and im not nearsighted. I'm not sure why i had this but i now have a band around my eye and i hope that it doesn't return.

By anon139513 — On Jan 04, 2011

I am 46 years old woman and I developed a macular hole in December, 1984, when I was 20 years old, in my left eye. At first it was just my center vision, but now I cannot see out of my left eye, but I thank the good Lord for my vision in my right eye.

My heart goes out to all who have eye problems or those who are blind. God bless you all!

By anon135333 — On Dec 18, 2010

Sometimes people are so unlucky and that includes me. 2002 - had a radical mastectomy due to invasive ductal carcinoma, six cycles of chemotherapy and 33 days of radiation. After seven years of survival, a pleural fluid (2.5 liters) removed from my lungs in the early part of 2010 and there was a thickening on the walls of my lungs and also, there came bone metastases - - - so I had four cycles of chemotherapy and 12 months of Zometa IV for bone redevelopment.

I'm already on my 10th month of my Zometa and my retina detached very suddenly. I'm scheduled for surgery in late December.

I am praying that I can continually cope with this physically, emotionally and financially.

By anon119491 — On Oct 18, 2010

I have had six vitrectomies and have had one complete detachment with catching the retina detaching in the early stages four times. I also had a buckle put on two years ago.

I am not diabetic, and am 50 years old. The doctors are quite stymied as to why my right eye continues to have issues.

I now have a gas bubble in the eye that will probably take six weeks to go away. Not sure how much vision I will regain this time, just not happy that this continues to occur.

By anon100169 — On Jul 28, 2010

Capricorn born in 1938. No vision problems. Assisted only with readers. Good health, no meds.

In 2003, I had a severe flasher and reported to the emergency room. All examinations gave me a clear bill of eye health. In May 2010 the curtain fell and I, again, went to ER and within 12 hours was in surgery for RD; buckle and bubble.

After three months the surgeon used a laser to "weld" a "pull." Ouch! Currently, I am very near-sighted in the repaired eye and am, slowly, regaining strength and confidence that all is playing out as it is meant to. Best wishes and good luck to all who share this frightening experience!

By anon97500 — On Jul 20, 2010

I'm a scorpio and I'm also 15. i have small holes in my retina and got a surgery done after about two years because the doctors didn't want to (they thought i was too young). After the two years they realized that the holes were growing and had to do it.

i am that "one in a million." Every time i go to my retina specialist, I'm the only young person in the office. Last time i was there, there was a man with an oxygen tank next to me with the same problem.

By anon95846 — On Jul 13, 2010

My detachment occurred in Oct 2009 and came on unexpectedly. It caused complete blindness in my left eye. A few days later I had eye surgery whereby they inserted a buckle. The recuperation was slow and I had many complications but fortunately 75 percent of my vision was restored.

I am 51 years old, very healthy, no eye problems nor am I diabetic, so my advice is to check your vision constantly and be sure to get regular eye examinations.

By anon91698 — On Jun 23, 2010

I had a retinal detachment in my right eye in 1998 when I was 25. I am also a Leo. Still having problems with my eyes, with watery vision, flashing lights, etc. Just had eyes checked, and they are fine, but it is difficult not to worry about this!

By anon89854 — On Jun 12, 2010

I was born in 1950 also a Libra with an identical twin sister. We were born eight weeks premature. We also had overdose of oxygen at birth and stayed in incubators for two months until we both weighed five pounds.

Being the smaller twin at 2 pounds, 7 ounces, I always had problems with my vision. As a child of about seven, my vision tested at 20/800. Started wearing hard contact lenses as a teenager, then at 20 after hitting my head really hard, I woke up the next morning totally blind in my left eye. I had surgery the next day for a detached retina in San Antonio, Texas, then two years later, had a retinal tear in the right eye, which was successfully treated at ucla in california.

Later in my early forties I also had cataracts in both eyes. With artificial lenses in both eyes now I see better than ever without contacts or glasses, thank heaven.

My sister had a detached retina in her right eye but because it happened at the same time she had a developing cataract she lost most of the vision in that eye. Hope this helps with your research.

By anon86859 — On May 27, 2010

I'm a 53 year old female Leo (interesting twist about signs!) going through a detached retina on my left eye. First surgery didn't fix it, so am now recovering from second with gas bubble and laser attachment.

For some reason the bubble from the second surgery is going away too fast -- not sure what the doctor will do about that -- but the good news is I can see again out of my left eye. Good luck with your project.

By anon82827 — On May 07, 2010

I'm a Leo and had a retina detachment in 2006. I was diagnosed yesterday with degenerative myopia (have been near-sighted since the age of six), was also a premature baby. I was told to watch carefully for signs of more detachments from this point forward as the myopia progresses.

By anon63667 — On Feb 02, 2010

I had my first detachment at 13, followed by second one at 20, both in the right eye. I am a Libra, and extremely nearsighted in both eyes. i doubt it has anything to do with being born when, in 13516's case, it's probably just genetics coupled with the fact that men are more likely to get detached retinas.

But either way, once you've had detachment coupled with hyperopia, make sure not to put any pressure on your eyes. that includes watching out for extreme coughing or sneezing, or suppression of either one, for they put tremendous pressure on those eyeballs and can cause another tear.

By anon53071 — On Nov 18, 2009

To the woman who was only 10. I was 18. The doctor told me the same thing. That it was not likely to happen to someone at my age.

By anon47040 — On Sep 30, 2009

I was born in 1934. I have had RK, cataract and glaucoma surgery on both eyes The RK and cataract was done at least 20 years ago A glaucoma specialist did the laser on my eyes in August. A few days ago, I saw the glaucoma doctor and she made an appointment for me with a low-vision doctor for me. I had forgotten I had an appointment with my retina doctor until they called the next day to remind me. I saw him the day after and he told me I have a detached retina in my right eye. I'm supposed to have the surgery tomorrow. I appreciate your site and information. I'll keep you informed. A Texan

By anon46996 — On Sep 30, 2009

I am a 51 year old female who is seriously nearsighted. A couple years ago I had a detached retina in my left eye. Had the surgery with the buckle and thankfully vision restored. I was told my odds of it happening in my right eye have increased about 50 percent and right now we are watching a thick floater (how annoying). I since then have had cataract removal in both eyes, which was very successful. I just have to use eye drops now to keep the pressure in my eyes down. Thank goodness for what they can do for us.

By anon40953 — On Aug 11, 2009

I was only 10 years old when i have a detached retina. I am now 30 so that was 20 years ago. I had never had any trauma to my head and the doctor told me it was 1 in a million that this happened to someone so young. After 3 surgeries and a trip to the Mayo clinic I lost complete sight in my right eye. It is definitely a very trying and horrible thing to go through when you are so young.

By anon39768 — On Aug 04, 2009

I am a 39 year old female and have had both retinas detach. Doctors believe the reason for the occurrences was severe nearsightness. My left retina detached when I was 12 in November 1982 and was successfully repaired with traditional surgery. In May of 1984 my right retina detached from a giant tear and I almost lost all vision in that eye. For that surgery, I endured a 8-plus hour traditional surgery, gas-bubble and 7-8 laser treatments to essentially melt the retina onto the eyeball. For both surgeries I was in the hospital for surgery immediately (the next day) following doctors' examination. Symptoms were quite sudden: increasing quantities of black dots/floaters, followed by white/milky, turned gray, turned pink, turned completely black colored curtain that followed or eliminated my field of vision. Additionally, because of the major trauma to that right eye, the doctors, as a precaution (to eliminate the possibility of future cataracts), removed the lens in that eye, requiring permanent usage of a protective contact lens. Fortunately, to date (knock wood), I have had zero complications and my vision is quite good with corrective lenses. The only problems/inconveniences I have are:

1. Limited to no peripheral vision in left eye.

2. Harmless surgery "debris"/floaters that follow my vision.

3. Limited night vision.

4. Eyes are sensitive to light and "tire" easily.

Currently I get annual examinations and am extremely careful with my eyes. The doctors are confident of continued stability of both retinas but I continue to be cautious and be grateful for the vision I have even if it is limited.

By anon39373 — On Aug 01, 2009

I find the article q. informative as I am eager to know how to prevent another detachment.

My right eye suffered a detached retina on 23 Dec. 1999, one year after I gave birth to my 1st child, when I was just 35 years old.

I believe it must have been partly caused by severe myopia, as I was and still am extremely short-sighted: 1200 degrees in each eye and now, must be at least 1500 degrees per eye. Legally blind, right?

My right eye now still has a bit of impaired vision in the center field, as I can't see certain lettrs in the middle of each word without the aid of my left eye.

Was told that only 1 in 15,000 people then had this "disease". Anyone there with a similar experience?

By anon38764 — On Jul 28, 2009

I was born in 1946 and have a detached retina of my right eye.

By anon34630 — On Jun 25, 2009

My name is Debbie and I had retinal detachment in 1999. There were no obvious causes for why the retinas in both of my eyes decided to detach at the same time. The only "out of the norm" experience for me was that I was pregnant. I had surgery on both eyes, one received only a freezing treatment the other a silicone buckle. I have been problem free since my surgery and my vision is now next to perfect. (I had to have lasic on the eye with the buckle) My surgeon, Howard Lazarus, with John Kenyon/American Eye Institute was awesome! He saved my vision!

By soffia — On May 21, 2009

So far, I had my first surgery on my right eye on November 20, 2008. It had complications... The second surgery I had on March 5, 2009. Again, something had gone wrong... The third surgery I had on March 24, 2009. I hope this is the last one... However, on May 14, 2009, I had cataract surgery on the same eye. I am nearsighted since 9 years old, and I have a history of glaucoma on both eyes in my theries, have been treated by surgery on 2006, eye pressure after the surgery was always stable.

I don't know what to say in terms of my vision right now...because I still cannot see, going to see doctors every week...

They promised that I will see.... So, I am hoping to.

Will wait for your respond. Thank you.

By anon22134 — On Nov 28, 2008

Hello to the Libra 60 year old lady,

I detached my retina in my right eye on the 12th September this year and I was born 22nd March 1969 (Aries), the detachment was caused by severe short sight in right eye which tore the retina in 2 places. Just had my 7th operation to repair it as 6 unsuccessful attempts in Portugal where I was on holiday and now returned to UK and had a fantastic Moorfield surgeon in Taunton, Somerset to carry out my last successful operation.

I would not normally reply to this type of e-mail but found your astrological slant very amusing.

Take care and wishing you all the best, Vanessa

By anon20300 — On Oct 28, 2008

HI madam anon13516,

I am one of retinal detached case. i was born august 9 1978, my first major operation on my right eye for retina detached when i was 19yrs old.. till 23yrs old i had 7 operations 5 in right eye which is much worst, and 2 operations in my left eye which is now much better...

Honestly madam i really don't know what is retina that time cause i am so young, till the symptoms i saw already but i ignore it..then till one day i woke up my left eye can't see anymore..that's the time of my trials in my life. hope to hear from you godbless. claire, from Philippines.

By anon17380 — On Aug 28, 2008

My dad's a Scorpio, an eye problem has nothing to do with astrology...detached retina is a detached retina. lol

By anon16041 — On Jul 28, 2008

DOB: 05/16/1980

date of detached retina: 05/15/2000

date of surgery: 05/16/2000

By anon13516 — On May 29, 2008

I am a 60 year old female, and had a detached retina ( left eye) on the 28th of March, 2008. Several men born under Leo in my family have had either detached retinas or gone blind due to cancer in the left eye. I am not a Leo, but a Libran, ( born 4th October) am very short sighted, having had an overdose of oxygen at birth, being a six week premature baby. Just today, some two months after my own retinal detachment, I phoned a tradesman living nearby and found he had had a retinal detachment two weeks ago. I immediately asked him if he was born under the sign of Leo or Libra ( like myself). He said he had had a retinal detachment in the left eye, and that he was indeed a Leo, being born on the 21st of July. I would like people who have had retinal detachments to post their birthdates on this site so that I may do some research and compile statistics. Thank you

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