Common Signs of Retinal Damage

Submitted by Elman Retina Group on March 16, 2020

Common Signs of Retinal DamageMany people are unfamiliar with the way the retina works. That’s understandable — the ocular system is complex! However, lacking an understanding of the eye’s structures makes it easy to misinterpret signs of retinal damage or disease. You might assume that a visual symptom is simply the result of normal, age-related visual decline.

But retinal conditions are a threat to your vision and must be taken seriously. Left untreated, retinal disease or damage can lead to permanent vision loss and, in some cases, blindness.

In this post, the team at Elman Retina Group reveals some of the warning signs that a vision problem may actually be more serious than the normal effects of aging.

Flashing Lights

One of the most common signs of retinal damage is flashing lights, or the illusion of strands or sparks of light flickering across your visual field. Sometimes flashing lights are harmless. But new or intense flashing lights can indicate a retinal tear or retinal detachment (i.e., when the retina pulls away from its normal position in the back of the eye) or other serious retinal problems.


Like flashing lights, floaters may be harmless. Everyone sees these specks or strands floating around in their visual field from time to time. However, a sudden increase in the size or number of floaters could suggest a potential problem with the retina.

Dim Vision

Not to be confused with blurry vision, dim vision occurs when objects look darker than normal, or you notice less contrast between objects than what you are used to. Think of dim vision as what you would see if you wore a dark pair of sunglasses or dimmed your overhead lights.

Distorted Vision

Retinal diseases affecting the macula — the central portion of the retina responsible for capturing fine details — can cause distorted central vision. An image’s lines or size may look distorted; for example, straight lines may appear wavy to one or both of the eyes.

Blind Spots

Developing larger blind spots or an increased number of blind spots in central vision may point to possible retinal damage.

A Curtain-Like Shadow Across Your Visual Field

The appearance of a gray or dark curtain-like shadow spreading across your field of vision and clouding vision, might suggest a problem with your retina.

Will Retinal Conditions Cause Pain?

Many people develop retinal damage or disease and do not experience pain. Do not assume the absence of pain means everything is fine.

If you experience any of the above symptoms or other unexplained changes in your vision, our Baltimore-area team encourages you to get checked out by scheduling a consultation with one of our doctors today.