June 5, 2007 at 7:15 PM CDT - Updated July 26 at 9:05 AM
Why is a retinal tear considered a serious problem? When a tear of the retina occurs, the liquid in the vitreous cavity may pass through the tear and get under the retina. The liquid collects under the retina and lifts it up off the back wall of the eye. Little by little, liquefied vitreous passes through the retinal tear and settles under the retina, separating it from the back wall of the eye. The separation of the retina is called a retinal detachment. Vision is lost wherever the retina becomes detached. Because most tears are located in the peripheral (or side of the) retina, the retinal detachment first results in loss of peripheral, or side, vision. A patient may notice a dark shadow, or a veil, coming from one side, above, or below. In most cases, after a retinal detachment starts, the entire retina will eventually detach and all useful vision in that eye will be lost.