Did I Damage My Retinas? Warning Signs of Tears and Detachment By Monterey County Eye Associates on November 11, 2023

athlete being checked for an eye injuryThe retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. As light enters the eye, the retina converts it into electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve, allowing the brain to process an image. If the retina is damaged, it can lead to vision loss or complete blindness.

retinal tear or detachment can be treated to preserve the vision. However, patients don’t always seek care because they don’t recognize the symptoms of retinal damage. Here, doctors at Monterey County Eye Associates, which serves Monterey, Salinas, and King CityCA, present warning signs of retinal tears and detachment that indicate it’s time to seek professional eye care. 

How Soon Do Symptoms of a Retinal Tear or Detachment Develop?

A retinal tear often develops signs within 24 hours to a few days after damage occurs. Without prompt treatment, a retinal tear can progress to retinal detachment. While symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment are often quickly apparent, many people don’t realize it because they don’t always experience pain or vision loss right away. Instead, they may experience other warning signs that indicate retinal damage.


Flashes are one of the most common warning signs of a retinal tear or detachment. Flashes are bright bursts or streaks of light that appear in the line of vision. Flashes can occur at any time but are often most noticeable in the dark, particularly around sources of light. Many people describe flashes as looking like small fireworks in their eyesight. People who develop flashes should report it to their eye doctor immediately to determine if retinal damage is present.


Floaters are another symptom that often develops when a retinal tear or detachment is present. Floaters are dark shadows, spots, or streaks that seem to float through the field of vision. Floaters can look like small lines or cobwebs that obstruct the vision. Floaters alone are not always a sign of a severe problem, but they should be reported to an eye doctor, especially when they appear suddenly or when other symptoms are present.

Dark Spots

A retinal tear or detachment often causes dark spots in the vision. Dark spots are similar to floaters but are larger. Dark spots can make it appear as though there is a dark shadow or curtain obscuring part of the eye. Similarly, a retinal tear or detachment can darken and compromise the peripheral vision.

Additional Concerns

Flashes, floaters, and dark spots are not always indicators of a retinal tear or detachment. However, they are usually a warning sign of some type of eye condition or disease, especially when more than one symptom is present. Individuals should report symptoms and schedule a comprehensive eye exam to check for a retinal tear or detachment or other conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

Contact Monterey County Eye Associates

If you are experiencing potential warning signs of a retinal tear or detachment, we recommend scheduling an eye exam at Monterey County Eye Associates to diagnose eye conditions and create an appropriate treatment plan. To get started, contact our eye clinic online and schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.

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The team of doctors at Monterey County Eye Associates

Monterey County Eye Associates
Leland H. Rosenblum, MD - MBEC
Eric J. Del Piero, MD

Our team of ophthalmologists provides state-of-the-art eye care using the latest technology. They are proud to be affiliated with: 

  • AAO: American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • ABO: American Board of Ophthalmology

To schedule an appointment, please call us at one of our four ophthalmologist office locations in Monterey, Ryan Ranch, Salinas, and King City, or contact us online.

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