T Nation

Tearing of the Retina


One of the guys on my dept. was just diagnosed with a torn retina. His current duty is not strenuos...he is a battalion chief, but he does lift weights frequently. The dr. said that weightlifting can cause tearing of the retina.
Can anyone explain why this happens and what to do to avoid it? Should he maybe adjust his workout or lay off for a while?

I've not heard of this problem as a result of weightlifting...maybe boxing.


Me either.


Hey, I am throwing out a guess here, and only a guess.
I would imagine that the doc wants him to stay away from heavy lifting due to increased pressure. Although I have never heard of a retina being torn from weights, it is not uncommon to see guys pop blood vessels in thier eyes from it. I don't always agree with doctors, but this seems like sound advice to me. They are your eyes, you don't want to mess around.
I couldn't tell you what to do about prevention. Normal breathing should help (easier said than done while performing a personal max, I know). I would bet that an injury like this is something that one is predisposed to, perhaps there was some weakness or something else going on that lifting aggrevated.
Like I said, just a guess, I am open to anybody telling me I am wrong.


Yes, I initially asked him if he held his breath a lot or strained with heavier weights. He said he did not. (I figured he didn't with his shoulder injury.)
I agree. He is probably predisposed or had it previously, maybe from a contact sport like football or another running sport.


Sounds bad.

I was diagnosed with stretched retinas when I first got contact lenses at age 13. It's fairly common with people who are extremely nearsighted. Several optometrists have told me that if I ever took a head shot just right or hard enough, it could cause the retina to seperate from the back of my eye or tear. No ones ever said anything about strenuous exercise or blood pressure changes causing it. And I've taken a lot of head shots and it hasn't happened yet, thank God.

On something as serious as his eyes, I'd recommend he get a second or third opinion on it.


I had a torn retina after getting whacked in the head with a hockey stick and they fixed it with some sort of light or laser device (I was 7, don't remember too well). Anyway I would imagine they want to keep blood pressure low as high BP frequently leads to burst blood vessels in the eye and surrounding tissue.