Traumatic injuries to the eye can lead to severe retinal problems. A direct blow to the eye may cause vitreous hemorrhage and/or retinal detachment. Pieces of metal, or other materials, called “intraocular foreign bodies,” may penetrate the sclera and damage the retina. Intraocular foreign bodies may cause retinal detachment, vitreous hemorrhage, or severe infection in the eye. Even if they don’t cause immediate problems, certain metallic foreign bodies may be toxic and can eventually destroy the eye if they remain in place.

If the eye is penetrated by a sharp object, scar tissue can form along the track of the object, as well as on the retinal surface. The scar tissue can pull on and detach the retina (traction retinal detachment).

In cases where trauma has caused retinal problems, surgery may save vision. In some cases, the goal is to remove the intraocular foreign body or blood (vitreous hemorrhage) and repair the damage to the retina with laser or cryotherapy. In other cases, vitrectomy surgery removes scar tissue from the surface of the retina. The timing of the surgery, and the specific techniques used, will depend on the type of trauma that the eye has suffered.