Retinal tears are caused by injury to the eye, advanced diabetes or other eye diseases, states Mayo Clinic. However, most cases are the direct result of aging and a natural thickening of fluid within the eyeball that then cause retinal detachment and tears.
The eyeball is filled with a gel-like fluid known as vitreous, according to Mayo Clinic. As humans age, this gel thickens, begins to shrink and causes a certain amount of pulling force on the retina. If this force becomes strong enough, a tear occurs. Patients may have debris enter through the tear, lodge in front of the retina, and cause an interruption in their line of vision. While there isn't any pain associated with a tear, common symptoms include seeing floaters, which simply indicate a shadow being cause by debris, overall loss of vision and diminished peripheral vision.
Those who suffer from retinal tears often ignore their symptoms because they aren't experiencing pain, but if left untreated, these tears can result in total detachment of the eyeball and blindness, explains Mayo Clinic. Small tears can heal on their own under a doctor's supervision, and more substantial tears can be repaired using a simple laser eye procedure. The most important thing is to take note of symptoms and seek treatment before a tear worsens into a complete retinal detachment.