Retinal detachment is a condition where the back of your retina separates from the underlying layers of the eyeball. This separation detaches the retinal tissue from the blood vessels, which then deprives the retina of blood, oxygen and other nutrients. Treatment usually involves retinal detachment surgery, in which your surgeon reattaches the torn or severed tissue. As with almost any surgical procedure, you must restrict physical activity during your recovery -- the length of time is often based on the progress of healing.
Although everyone responds differently to treatment, it usually takes upward of two months to ensure the retina has been successfully treated, according to the Midland Eye Institute. For the first few weeks of this recovery period, avoid heavy physical activity, including more vigorous athletic pursuits. As soon as your doctor gives you the go-ahead, however, you can return to your regular workout routine.
The reason for this restriction is directly related to concerns that the retina remains attached after the procedure. Exercise is known to change the intraocular pressure of the eyes. Systolic blood pressure tends to increase, while diastolic blood pressure often decreases with physical activity, notes a study conducted by the Department of Ophthalmology at the Washington University School of Medicine. Any changes in pressure — as is seen from vigorous or strenuous pursuits — can sometimes lead to detachment.
If you return to exercise before your doctor gives you the okay, and it results in detachment, you’ll likely experience some of the same symptoms you did prior to the surgical procedure. One of the most common symptoms is floaters, which appear as small spots or strings that float through your line of vision. These floaters are often accompanied by sudden flashes of light and reduced vision over a portion of your visual field.
As soon as you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor. The longer you leave the condition untreated, the more likely you’ll suffer from vision loss. The detachment is depriving the retina of oxygen. As with any other bodily tissue, the lack of oxygen can result in tissue death.