Vitreous detachment, retinal tear and VO2 max intervals

I’m 54 and developed a bunch of tiny floaters in my left eye on Friday eve. Saturday AM I did 4x3min VO2 max interval workout. Saturday evening I developed a BIG wavy floater. No pain. No “flashes”.

Sunday AM saw an opthalmologist diagnosed me with a vitreous detachment and a retinal tear (not detachment), subequently treated with laser. He said to take a few days easy but then I could go back to essentially my normal activities including high intensity cycling. I can’t find any literature that suggests high intensity aerobic exercise is a risk factor for vitreous detachment, retinal tear, detachment.

I still have a pretty big floater in my left eye and lots of tiny floaters so my vision is a bit cloudy, but I understand that at least the tiny floaters (blood) should clear.

I know at my age (50s) I’m at risk for vitreous detachment and likely to experience the same in the other eye. Anyone else have experience with this?

Hey @jdc911,

Sorry to hear about this. That sounds unsettling. I can understand why you want second opinions before getting back to high intensity efforts. I think it’s sensible to err on the side of caution.

It sounds like you were able to get in to see the doctor pretty quickly. Perhaps you might feel better consulting with the doctor again to get some extra reassurance before you dive back in to training?

Otherwise, since it sounds like the doctor didn’t have major concerns with you returning to training in a couple of days, you could try a workout and be okay with having to cut the workout short if you feel like you are exacerbating the issue?

Alternatively, you may feel better riding easy until your vision returns to normal, depending on how long the doctor expects that to take. Don’t worry, it takes more time to lose the fitness than a lot of us fear (me included).

One last thing… it may go without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway because I care about your safety), I suggest you ride on the trainer (if you have one) until your vision returns to normal.

All the best. I hope everything returns to normal soon :heart:.


I am reasonably qualified to have an opinion about your circumstances. About 50% of people will have a vitreous separation by their mid-fifties. More often than not, there are no memorable symptoms. In your case, you had remarkable symptoms, which is a good thing. You had a retinal tear, which was treatable. The vitreous gel is liquified with age and weighs about 4 grams. It moves and shrinks, pulls away from its rather loose attachment to the retina, and especially where there are some specific pre-existing conditions, the retina can tear. Without treatment, you could develop a retinal detachment, which is a far more significant event. Do you have a significant refractive error? Are you highly near-sighted (myopic)? Finally, it is unlikely your workouts contributed to your retinal tear. Hope that is helpful.


I’m myopic (but not extreme), but definitely in the right age category. Your last point is what I came here to hear. Thanks!