Hole in the retina: Causes, symptoms and treatment

A hole in the retina, also known as a retinal tear, is a serious eye condition that requires immediate medical attention.

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of the eye that is responsible for vision. A retinal hole is a small, round or oval gap in the retina. This can lead to serious vision problems.

Causes: This is how a retinal hole occurs

Common causes of a hole in the retina include age-related changes, diabetic retinopathy, injury, or severe nearsightedness. These factors can cause pulling forces on the retina, eventually leading to a tear or hole.

The most common causes at a glance:

Age-related vitreous detachment: The vitreous humor is a jelly-like substance that fills the eye. As we age, the vitreous can shrink and detach from the retina. This can lead to pulling forces that can cause a hole in the retina.

Nearsightedness: People with nearsightedness have a long eye axis. This causes the retina to be more stretched and more susceptible to tears or holes.

Trauma: Trauma to the eye, such as a blow or fall, can cause a hole in the retina.

Certain medications: Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can weaken the retina and cause a hole.

Symptoms of a hole in the retina

A hole in the retina often causes no symptoms in the early stages. However, if the hole enlarges, the following symptoms may occur:

Flickering or shadows in the field of vision
Loss of visual acuity
Black spot in the field of vision
How the retinal hole is diagnosed
An ophthalmologist can diagnose a hole in the retina through a thorough eye examination, including the use of drops to dilate the pupils. Regular eye exams are especially important for people with risk factors such as diabetes or high myopia.

Treatment options

A hole in the retina usually needs to be treated to prevent a retinal detachment.

Treatment for a hole in the retina depends on the size and location of the hole. Small holes can usually be treated with laser surgery to stabilize the retina. Larger holes or retinal detachments may require surgery.

Laser treatment
Laser treatment uses a laser beam to cauterize the edges of the hole. This will prevent the hole from enlarging. Laser treatment is an outpatient procedure that is usually performed under local anesthesia.

Laser retinal hole: possible side effects
Laser treatment of a retinal hole is usually an effective procedure to restore retinal integrity. Although most patients experience positive results, temporary side effects may occur, including blurred vision, mild inflammation, pressure in the eye, and temporary sensitivity to light. It is crucial to discuss any concerns with the ophthalmologist and follow the postoperative instructions carefully.


During a so-called vitrectomy, the vitreous humor is removed from the eye. This reduces tension on the retina and reduces the risk of retinal detachment. Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure that is performed under general anesthesia.

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