What is the Difference Between a Macular Hole and a Retinal Tear?

Posted by: Eye Health Northwest in Retina on October 2, 2023

As you grow older, so do your eyes. Age-related changes in the eye can lead to conditions that require immediate treatment to avoid permanent vision loss. 

Keep reading to learn about how macular holes and retinal tears occur and why they pose serious threats to your eye health!

What is Vitreous?

While a macular hole is different from a retinal tear, both can result due to changes in the vitreous. A gel-like substance that fills the eye, vitreous, is made up of tiny fibers that attach to your retina. 

These fibers are microscopic, but as you age, they clump together. Vitreous also shrinks with age, pulling away from the retina. Sometimes, it sticks to the retina.

What is a Macular Hole?

The macula is a portion of the retina just above the optic nerve. It enables you to see clearly in your direct line of sight. 

When vitreous sticks to the retina, this can cause the macula to stretch. The thinning macula can often develop holes or openings. 

This will affect your central vision. At first, things will look blurry, wavy, or distorted, but if the hole grows larger, blind spots or dark areas will appear. 

A macula hole will not affect your peripheral vision. A macular hole can also form if the macula swells due to certain eye conditions or if there’s an injury to the eye. 

What is a Retinal Tear? 

The retina is a thin layer of nerve cells in the back of the eye, located near the optic nerve. When the lens of the eye focuses light, the retina converts it into electrical signals that are sent along the optic nerve to the brain. 

The retina can develop a small hole or tear as the result of an eye injury or trauma or from vitreous shrinking and pulling away from the retina. This situation can lead to further complications. 

A retinal tear can allow fluid to enter beneath the retina, build up, and cause a retinal detachment. The risk of a retinal tear increases with age. 

An increase in floaters can be a sign of a retinal tear. Early treatment can prevent the tear from getting worse, which can lead to a detached retina.

What Are Some Common Symptoms of Retinal Conditions? 

An increase in floaters can be a sign of a retinal tear. So is the sudden onset of flashing lights or a dark curtain across portions of your vision. 

Early treatment can prevent the tear from getting worse, which can lead to a detached retina.

Can Retinal Tears Be Treated?

Retinal tears can be treated. The goal is to seal off the tissue around the incision so it will not grow larger and lead to retinal detachment. 

Two forms of treatment are available depending on the retinal tear. Laser surgery is used to seal the retina to the wall of the eye. Cryotherapy can also be used. 

This is the application of extreme cold to the areas around the tear. Scar tissue forms, preventing further tearing.

Are you experiencing changes in your vision? Schedule an appointment at EyeHealth Northwest in Portland, OR, today!


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Aloha
18345 SW Alexander St,
Suite A
Aloha, OR 97003
(503) 642-2505 see more
Glisan
6701 NE Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 255-2291 see more
Gresham
24601 SE Stark St.
Suite 245
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 255-2291 see more
Hillsboro
6111 NE Cornell Rd
Hillsboro, OR 97124
(503) 846-9400 see more
Lake Oswego
9 Monroe Parkway, Suite 160
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
(503) 636-2551 see more
Milwaukie
11086 SE Oak St
Milwaukie, OR 97222
(503) 656-4221 see more
Mt. Tabor
5935 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97206
503 777-5546 see more
Newberg
2318 Portland Rd, Suite 300
Newberg, OR 97132
(503) 538-1341 see more
North Portland
3246 N. Lombard St.
Portland, OR 97217
(503) 285-1671 see more
Northwest Portland
1955 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-2020 see more
Oregon City
1306 Division St
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 656-4221 see more
Peterkort
9555 SW Barnes Rd.
#100 (1rst floor)
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 227-2020 see more
Providence Portland
5050 NE Hoyt St., Suite 445
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 231-0166 see more
Providence St. Vincent
9135 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 961
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 292-0848 see more
Southeast Portland
10819 SE Stark St,
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 255-2291 see more
Sunnyside
12050 SE Stevens Rd, Suite 100
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(503) 783-3300 see more
Tigard
15298 SW Royalty Parkway
Tigard OR 97224
(503) 227-2020 see more
Wilsonville
29250 SW Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(503) 582-0000 see more
Westside Surgery Center
13240 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 639-6571 see more
EyeHealth Eastside Surgery and Laser Center
12050 SE Stevens Rd.
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(971) 206-6100 see more

Our Locations

Aloha
18345 SW Alexander St,
Suite A
Aloha, OR 97003
(503) 642-2505 see more
Glisan
6701 NE Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 255-2291 see more
Gresham
24601 SE Stark St.
Suite 245
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 255-2291 see more
Hillsboro
6111 NE Cornell Rd
Hillsboro, OR 97124
(503) 846-9400 see more
Lake Oswego
9 Monroe Parkway, Suite 160
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
(503) 636-2551 see more
Milwaukie
11086 SE Oak St
Milwaukie, OR 97222
(503) 656-4221 see more
Mt. Tabor
5935 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97206
503 777-5546 see more
Newberg
2318 Portland Rd, Suite 300
Newberg, OR 97132
(503) 538-1341 see more
North Portland
3246 N. Lombard St.
Portland, OR 97217
(503) 285-1671 see more
Northwest Portland
1955 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-2020 see more
Oregon City
1306 Division St
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 656-4221 see more
Peterkort
9555 SW Barnes Rd.
#100 (1rst floor)
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 227-2020 see more
Providence Portland
5050 NE Hoyt St., Suite 445
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 231-0166 see more
Providence St. Vincent
9135 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 961
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 292-0848 see more
Southeast Portland
10819 SE Stark St,
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 255-2291 see more
Sunnyside
12050 SE Stevens Rd, Suite 100
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(503) 783-3300 see more
Tigard
15298 SW Royalty Parkway
Tigard OR 97224
(503) 227-2020 see more
Wilsonville
29250 SW Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(503) 582-0000 see more
Surgery Centers

Westside Surgery Center

13240 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 639-6571 see more

EyeHealth Eastside Surgery and Laser Center

12050 SE Stevens Rd.
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(971) 206-6100 see more