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What causes retinal detachment?

A clear gel called vitreous (vit-ree-us) fills the middle of the eye. As we get older, the vitreous may pull away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye.

Usually the vitreous separates from the retina without causing problems. But sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places. Fluid may pass through the retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye, much as wallpaper can peel off a wall.

The following conditions increase the chance of having a retinal detachment:
  • Nearsightedness
  • Previous cataract surgery
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe injury
  • Previous retinal detachment in your other eye
  • Family history of retinal detachment
  • Weak areas in your retina that can be seen by your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.