Excercise After PVD is Safe

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Excercise After PVD is Safe

Retinal Detachments and Retinal Tear

I believe exercise after sustaining a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) to be safe.  Many doctors recommend a “no exercise” period after a PVD to decrease the risk of retinal tear and retinal detachment.  This does not make sense to me.

PVD Causes Retinal Tear

A retinal tear may occur after a posterior vitreous detachment, but in my opinion, the chance of a tear occurring is the same whether or not you exercise.

The vitreous normally separates, or detaches, from the retinal surfaces with age.  It happens to everyone as we get older.  A PVD will occur earlier in life due to increased nearsightedness, previous eye surgery, certain trauma, etc.  After a PVD occurs, there are physical changes within the eye.

The vitreous now occupies less space within the eye.  The vitreous does not separate completely from the retinal surface and remains adherent in certain areas.  The vitreous moves back and forth with eye movement, yet tethered to the retina in the areas which remain attached.  This is where the retina can tear.

Statistically, a retinal tear will occur during the first six weeks of onset of a PVD.

Does Exercise Increase the Chance of Retinal Tear

The concern about exercise is related to increased motion/bouncing of the eye.  The thought is that increased movement increases the chance of retinal tear.

This might be a valid concern except for two arguments;  1) each evening during REM sleep (a necessary stage of sleep), the eyes beat back and forth faster than any activity we perform while awake, and 2) after the six week period, there is no known “healing” of the retina.

REM (rapid eye movement) occurs every evening and involves continuous beating of your eye back and forth.  While the speed of the eye movements (think of what your eyes do when you reach the end of a sentence) approaches that of reading, the extent to which the eyes move and the duration supersede these reading movements.

Thus, every night your eyes sustain greater forces during REM than while you are awake.

Also, there are no known physical changes to either the retina or vitreous after six weeks.  For instance, the retina does not become stronger or thicker after a PVD, hence the chance of tearing should be the same.

Weightlifting is definitely safe.

What Does this Mean?

Remember, this is my opinion.  If  you were my patient (and I remind  you that you are not my patient just by reading this article), I’d advise you exactly as I’ve written here.  For the rest of you, I think my arguments allowing exercise are pretty valid and you should discuss with your own doctor.

Lastly, if we are at risk for developing a tear, wouldn’t you want it to occur while we are being vigilant?


Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia






  1. Hani Barakat says:

    Dear Sir.
    I had a retina surgery 4 months ago.This was done because of some halls in the retina.The eye surgeon used sikicon oil and laser in the operation.Can you tell me when the silicon oil should br removed.The doctor says the the retina is good now.
    Best regards.

  2. Miguel Matias says:

    Hello Doc. Randall,

    Excellent info as usual.

    Your point on this makes perfect sense. I believe there are too many “myths” out there regarding health.

    Please keep doing your webinars about all of these subjects, i’m sure they will carry many bits of wisdom and common sense into this “think inside the box” World we live in.

    I greatly enjoyed your vitreous floater webinar, learned a lot, passed the message to many people and will continue to do so.

    Thank you once again for being so generous while expecting nothing in return.

    Miguel Matias

  3. m j thakoor says:

    My left eye R.D surgery two years ago right eye pvd more than two years back vitreous floters seen from same date for last two months in right eye I see transient flashes superioly MY doctor examined me every three months & say peripheral retina is normal so what precautions shoud I take & what are the chances of retinal tear in right eye pleae guide me

  4. Doug Pribble says:

    Dr Wong-
    I had a diagnosed PVD in my left eye in Sept. 2012 – this is after having a retinal tear/detachment in my right eye in July 2012. The RD was repaired with buckle/vitrectomy with no real complications.

    However, my left (PVD) eye continues to experience some flashes, which seem to come in ‘clumps.’ I’ll not notice anything for weeks, then I’ll see 15-20 flashes over the space of a day.

    To the point of your article – I noticed that after an especially vigorous swim workout, I seem to experience an increase in flashes for the rest of the day. Would this be indicitive of those tenacious vitreous fibers pulling on the retina during exercise, then the retina remaining somewhat stimulated for the rest of the day?

    I’m 48 and very nearsighted; my retina doc tells me my vitreous separated earlier (because of nearsightedness) and therefore is still ‘tougher’ and less liquified than most PVD patients’. Would this put me at greater risk for a tear in the PVD eye? If so, what could I do to lessen that risk?

    Thanks for all your great info.

    • Dear Doug,

      Not really sure. Curious that the flashes are more apparent after a vigorous swim…maybe that’s just the issue, they are more apparent.

      I would say you are at greater risk only because you’ve already had a detachment, not necessarily because you had a PVD “earlier.”

      To me, your PVD is probably age appropriate given the refractive nature of your eye and that fact that the other eye already sustained a PVD.

      I know nothing to lessen the risk except get examined and follow your retina doc’s advice.


      Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Retina Specialist
      Fairfax, Virginia

  5. Gregg says:


    I saw my eye doctor yesterday for an annual exam and she indicated that I had a suspicious spot on my retina, possibly a hole or tear. I had noticed a large floater in the past few weeks in the same eye. I am nearsighted, 55 years old and my father had a history of a retinal tear. Does vigorous activity, such as road/mountain biking increase the risk of retinal tear/detachment? Is there a relationship between blood pressure and retinal issues? Should I avoid vigorous activity until after being treated?

    Thanks much.

    • Gregg,

      I do not believe road/mountain biking or other vigorous activity will cause a retinal tear. Yes, there is a relationship between blood pressure and vascular occlusions or optic nerve swelling, but not with retinal tears.

      I’d recommend staying following your doctors’ advice as they’ve examined you, but you won’t cause a tear by exercising in my opinion.

      Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Retina Specialist
      Fairfax, Virginia

  6. Prasad says:

    Dr. Wong,

    I had LASIK surgery in 2007. Now after 6 years I got -1.25 glasses.

    They say my retina is thin. It is not safe to lift heavy weights. Is it SAFE for me to do gym exercises?

    Please help me Sir.

    Thanks a lot.

  7. Miles says:

    I’m 26 years old with high blood pressure. I like doing the elliptical trainer to bring down my blood pressure. But 2 months ago, I was poked in the eye. Two weeks ago, I started seeing flashes in my peripheral vision in the eye that was poked. An eye doctor examined my eye, said there was no retinal tearing or damage, but didn’t exactly diagnose me with PVD either. She said, “It could be.” But just to be safe, I stopped exercising. Naturally, blood pressure is now up. Wife is unhappy… Am I REALLY being silly for not exercising?

  8. Patrick says:

    1 week ago, I noticed some new “C-shaped” flashes of light in the extreme left portion of the field of vision in my left eye. I then noticed a new, string-like floater in the same eye. This concerned me, my brother had a detached retina when he was about my age, and I have been learning of warning signs of potential detached retina. I had been lifting weights earlier that same day (I’ve been working out for years and I love it).I met with my Ophthalmologist on 7/18/13 who diagnosed my condition as a PVD. The Doctor said I had no evidence of retinal detachment or tear, but that I was a high risk for a retinal detachment over the next 6 weeks. She advised me to
    take it easy” on the weightlifting. I asked her if there were any way to continue lifting weights safely. She advised me to “lay off a couple days, then watch your breathing when you lift (she explained about the internal pressure effect from holding your breath when you lift). Since then I have been thinking about developing a safe way to continue lifting, but I really don’t want to take a risk with my vision (thus I plan to proceed with caution). Thanks for your viewpoints regarding this issue.

  9. George says:


    I think your information here is great. I especially appreciate the exercise advice as it is confusing. I noted my own challenges about exercise in a blog post.


    Thanks again

  10. Sean V. says:

    Thank you so much for this article!

    I was diagnosed with PVD in my right eye two months ago. Both my doctors told me that I was basically limitless in what I could do, with regards to my PVD. Coming across this article just reaffirms what they have told me and has made me more confident in what I can do.



  11. Hafiz says:

    Thank you Doctor Randall,

    Its quite nice to see you debunking another myth and then helping to remove another excuse in the name of fear for not to exercise and to lead a sedentary lifestyle ,, No wonder people become chronically ill as I have to search for this website to get a proper sensible explanation to the reason behind the retina detachment. thank you Doctor.

    In 2006 I was diagnosed with CSR and they treated with laser after condcuting an angiogram in my eyes to detect the ruptured cells. Later several occasions i had these type of attacks and i resorted to natural healing changing my life style. At present my line of vision is blurred almost 70% in my left eye. Can u please suggest a long term remedy for this..

    with lot of regards

  12. Michael says:


    I was assessed yesterday with a retinal tear with laser treatment scheduled for next week. The ophthalmologist said it seems to be stable and looked as though it wasn’t recent. He didn’t give a time frame, and didn’t see any urgency for immediate treatment. It was a very busy clinic. I’ve been training hard for a marathon over the past 15 weeks and noticed flashing black dots (along with the usual floaters which I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I’m 58) during a long run. These seemed different to me, so had them assessed. Also, I had/have flashes of white light to the upper left of my left eye. The marathon takes place in just over 3 weeks, which would be 15 days after the laser treatment.
    Do you advocate that I continue exercising, even intensely, before the laser treatment as well as after the treatment and then run the marathon?

    Thanks for your insights (pardon the pun)


  13. Ann says:

    How about inversions? Hand stand push ups or simply staying inverted for a minute? Would you not recommend these kind of activities to extremely severe myopic people? (my left eye is -16 and was told has PVD on that eye) I asked my doctor regarding this but only got a vague answer. Thank you Dr. Wong!

  14. Chen Hau Hau says:

    Hi, Dr. Wong,

    I experienced my first retinal detachment (RD) about two years ago which is caused by rubbing my right eye too rigorously. During the incident, I dislocated my IOL (from a cataract surgery) and tore my retina at the same time. I am in my early 40s. I had a cataract surgery on the same eye about 10 years ago. I believe this cataract is caused by a trauma to the head due to sport injury.

    My surgeon fixed the RD successfully with a buckle but decided to wait to get the dislocated lens fixed. I finally got the IOL repositioned about 8 weeks ago. Two weeks after the surgery, I had another RD in the same eye. This was fixed with a vitrectomy. This is also a successful surgery.

    With a history of two RD’s, I am really paranoid of doing any sport. Prior to my second RD, I used to be really active. I do weight lifting, running, and high intensity cardio exercise. If you’re familiar with programs like P90x and insanity, that’s what my routine looks like.

    With two RD’s under my belt, should I switch to a lower impact exercise such as swimming and cycling? What is your opinion on the effect of body resistance type of exercise (pushups, pullups, plyometrics) to the risk of having an RD?

    Many thanks for your input in advance. As you can see, I found your website because I’ve been searching high and low for the answers to this question.


    • Hau,

      I personally don’t view non-contact exercise as any riskier than sleeping with regard to retinal detachment and retinal tear formation. During REM sleep, your eyes beat back forth faster and harder than P90…..What do you think?


  15. Aj says:

    Hi dr wong, thank you so much for this info. i’ve had a laser retinopexy done for a small retinal tear in the superior temporal side of my retina. Now i’m 5 days post laser. Would you reccomend that I continue my intense weight lifting? I work as a fitness model and the gym is basically my source of income. Thank you so much fr your rely.

    Also? Does exercising imcrease the intr occular pressure and is tht why doctrs don’t reccomend exercsisng post laser?

    • Aj,

      I personally feel that non-contact physical activity, such as weight lifting, has no effect whatsoever in causing a retinal tear. The eye pressure high or low, would not cause a retina tear.

      I have no idea why a doctor would recommend against exercise after laser.

      Makes no sense to me.


  16. Chen Hau Hau says:

    Hi, Dr Wong,

    It makes sense. I have never read any articles on the web that say weight lifting causes retinal detachment as well. Although some people say that holding your breath while doing it has the risk of detaching the retina. Again, I have never found any studies done on this subject anywhere.

    Many thanks for your response. By the way, I just found this article from Cornell University related to the potential benefit of drinking coffee (since it contains chlorogenic acid) to preventing retinal degeneration. I think they just published it last week. You might already know this.



    • Chen,

      I don’t believe the item about holding your breath.

      Coffee – always beware of news releases not based upon good evidence based medicine.

      Could be true, but we really don’t know.


  17. Aaron says:

    Hello, dr. Wong.

    I just got retinal detachment 3 months ago, and now still have the silicon oil in my eye, to be scheduled for evacuate in next 2 months. What I want to know is, how to prevent this to happen again in the future (for PVD patient and those who never got PVD)? I heard that miopia increases the chance to have PVD, since the retina is thinner. But that’s not something we can avoid of. 😀

    Thanks, doc, I found this article when I Google “gym and retina tear”. 🙂

    • Aaron,

      Thanks for the keyword tip (gym and retina tear).

      Myopia does increase the chance of having a PVD earlier in life. Everyone gets a PVD at some point. Myopia increases the chance of PVD because the eye is slightly larger, therefore the volume of the eye is greater.

      The only thing you can do is to get examined if you ever notice a sudden increase in floaters or you start to lose your peripheral vision.


  18. Robin says:

    I think I will be seeing you in 6 weeks. Today I was diagnosed with Posterior Vitreous Detachment by Dr. Dressler. I am 53 years old and usually go to 5 pretty intense step classes a week that do involve some jumping moves, plus weightlifting classes and some Pilates. I would like to continue this activity because I am afraid that if I stop doing this for 6 weeks I will have difficulty getting back in shape. However, if the activity is unsafe I will obviously not do it. Do you have a recommendation? Thank you so much.

    • Robin,

      In my opinion, you should continue exercising. The physical activity you describe comes nowhere near the forces generated in the eye during REM sleep.

      If you ask me, keep exercising.

      Look forward to meeting you.


  19. Sammie says:

    Hello Dr. Wong,
    I am a 26 year old police officer who has had extend myopia in the right eye his whole life. I corrected my vision with ICLs about 2 years ago. I was diagnosed with a retinal detachment about 6 months ago, that I sustained after being thumbed in the eye while kickboxing.. I had laser surgery and oil injected into to my eye. When the oil was removed approximately 2 months later. My doctor did another round of laserting and also put a gas bubble in my eye. I had no complications during any of the procedures and my vision has returned to normal. I recently applied to another department and was notified that to pass the academy I will have to box again with head gear. My question is whether it is possible to place the oil back into my eye indefinitely to keep the retina flat and attached, in order for me to be able to box again with head gear.

    Thank you for all the good information.

  20. Timoteo Arellano says:

    I had a ball kicked at my eye. The doctor diagnosed my eye problem as vitreous hemorrhage. My vison went back to normal after a week, but the doctor said I should stay from exercise for another monthto prevent the retina from detaching. Does this “no exercise” myth apply to my situation?

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      I can’t advise anything other than to follow your doctor’s advice. In my own patients with tears in the retina, I rarely have restricted their activity. Randy

    • Dimon says:

      If REM sleep activity forces greater than physical activity why most of people get PVD when they are awake?

      • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

        I don’t know that to be true. Just my best guess. Would be very hard to prove (what I say).


  21. Cherry P says:

    Recently turned 50 and almost immediately developed/diagnosed with PVD . I immediately felt depressed as the ophthalmologist said no running, boxing (heavy bag) or any jarring exercises (practically everything that kept me from being depressed) for 4-6 weeks. Then I came across your article and felt uplifted. But just to be clear(er), it is okay, in your opinion, to run, jump, punch and kick heavy bag before 4-6 weeks is up?
    Thank you.

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      Sorry for the really late response, but I mean what I said. If you were my patient, I’d recommend you keep up your physical activity.


  22. jack says:

    I have been diagnosed with pvd 3 weeks ago i don’t see flashes but i have a floater in my left eye with a blurry vision the floater is like a thread and i can see through it but it’s so annoying will it go away on itself or do i need to do a laser surgery to remove it btw im 17 :/

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      Laser can remove it if the floater persists. Hope you are well. Very sorry for the response time.


  23. Dany says:

    Hello Doctor…thanks a lot for this blog, i find it super helpful.
    I am 33, had a RD in my right eye in June 2018, repaired with a scleral buckle. Vision back to normal. I was restricted from heavy lifting and advised to start picking up weights gradually.
    I started doing so in September and was feeling great to be back in the gym. Then one day at the gym while i was doing relatively light pull downs, i saw mild flashes. Got my eyes checked and turns out i had a tear in my fellow eye.

    I am a usually a very active person but have become very paranoid about going back to gym, especially that my last retinal tear happened while i was working out.

    Is what happened to me purely coincidential?


  24. Claire Dale says:

    Hello, thank you for providing some very useful information. I have a retinal tear at the ‘6’ part of my eye, luckily I had laser photo-coagulation the same day as the tear and 10 days later further laser treatment to make the seal around it extra secure to avoid detachment. I mentioned to the surgeon after it was done that I see could still the black semi circle ( the tear) at the top of my vision, they said it was normal. Three weeks later I still see it. Am I correct in understanding that I will always see the black semi circle tear in my vision. It is only visible in low light, I don’t have any flashes and not many floaters. Many Thanks.

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      No excuse for the late response.

      Not sure what caused the semi circle. I wonder if there was some bleeding in the vitreous?


  25. Diagnosed with PVD today after being accidentally hit in the eye two days ago. I’m scheduled to go on a 10 day cruise in 4 weeks. Do I need to worry about being away from emergency surgical care on my trip? Thank you so very much for your input and availability for these questions!

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      No one can predict. You have to live your life, but the chances of a retinal tear after a PVD are greatest during the initial 6-8 weeks of symptoms.


  26. Maksim says:

    Hello, dr. Wong!
    Your opinion perfectly makes sense to me. I had LASIK retinal tear surgery a year ago and constantly worrying about exercising. My ophthalmologist believes that strenuous exercising can exacerbate retinal tear, he explains it with an increased pressure inside the eye (not sure if he means IOP or intracranial) during training session. Is it true?
    Also worrying about doing some contact sport like boxing, if it is safe.
    Big thank you in advance.

  27. M.P says:

    I realize that exercise can be ok. However, while I exercised regularly after my first PVD, I think that over exercising on the tennis court in high temperatures the day after exercising the prior evening contributed to my other PVD the very day I was playing tennis. I am now afraid to play tennis again for fear I may tear my retina. I cannot imagine a life without exercise, but right now I am limiting myself to walking. Thank you for the information about REM sleep. I thought sleeping would help the healing process of my PVD, but can too much sleep hurt it? Do you have any insight about future exercise?

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      Don’t fear exercise. Seems like a nasty coincidence to me! I’m a tennis player!


  28. John says:

    I recently had a retinal detachment and had vitrectomy, silicon oil, scleral buckle and laser in surgery. Im reading this page with interest as I was a pretty regular weight lifter before this retinal detachment. Ive encountered “general Dr advice” to stop exercising for 6 weeks post surgery but I also read this published medical journal article, detailing that heavy lifting is linked with retinal detachment and here they pose possible physiological mechanisms for this: https://oem.bmj.com/content/74/Suppl_1/A36.3

    Whats your view on this and the general claim that using the valsalva maneuver – where the lifter holds their breath during a heavy repetition – could induce a retinal
    tear or detachment.

    Id very much like to resume lifting but this journal article has me concerned. Thoughts?

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      I do not agree that valsalva increases the chance of retinal detachment. IMO, no problem with lifting, but you should consult your own eye doctor. Sorry for the delay. r

  29. Rado says:

    Dear Doctor Wong,

    This was a really useful article for me. I had a scleral buckling surgery on my right eye almost 7 years ago because of an RD after a ball hit me in the eye, even back then I had a -9 diopter on that eye. My current situation is quite odd as my diopter on the injured eye is -21 and on the left eye -6.

    I was running almost each day for around 5 miles until an year ago, when I received an eye infection, which lasted almost 6 months. I gave up running after I started seeing floaters in my injured eye as well as seeing some sort of lights, not flashes of light, but more like silver spots moving in specific areas in my vision. Since then I went few times to my ophthalmologist and after checks with Goldman lens, she was never able to find tears or any RD.

    What could be the cause of this and can I continue running?

    Thanks in advance an I really appreciate you articles.

    Kind regards,

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      I don’t know what’s causing this, but if you were my patient, you should keep running. Randy

  30. David clark says:

    Dear Dr Wong,

    Had a RD in left eye eighteen days ago and had what seems a successful surgery using SF6 gas. Sight appears to be back to normal, although slight shadow persists in peripheral (will this ever disappear).

    Before the RD I was playing squash four times a week (squash was not cause of RD, cause known) and I would like to know whether you think I should go back to playing squash once confirmed all is ok?

    Many thanks.

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      I’m a tennis and pickleball player…go forth! I’d say this even if I weren’t a racket sport player!

      If you redetach, not because you are playing.


  31. Kirk ODell says:

    Dr Wong,

    Earlier this week I was diagnosed with a PVD after noticing flashes of light and significant floaters. Under examination, while no retinal tear, the Dr noticed “thin spots” in my retina and suggested laser “anchoring” to keep the retina from tearing or detaching. He told me no weightlifting for 3 weeks until I came back for a re-examination. Would you suggest that it is ok for me to weight lift now? I have no other problems except minor heart arrhythmia and extreme myopia. The heart arrhythmia is benign according to my cardiologist. Please advise

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      I have no issue with the way you treated. I assume your doctor lasered the retina?

      Arrhythmia is not related to your retina.


  32. Kirk ODell says:

    I forgot to mention that he performed the procedure described above at the time of my original exam.

  33. Rado says:

    Dear Randy,

    This sounds great! I think I will continue running as this is a big pleasure for me.

    Thank you and!


  34. Irene V.V. says:

    Dear Dr. Wong, just had vitrectomy, gas bubble and scleral buckle 3 weeks ago. Pressure and condition of eye is good so far. is it ok to ride indoor bike (level 3) and indoor treadmill (walking 3.5 mph). Prior to surgery, I exercised 2-3 hours a day vigorously. Thank you.

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:

      As you are NOT my patient I can only tell you what I would tell my own patients. I don’t see any reason for not returning to regular exercise. Please ask your own doctor. Randy

  35. Irene V.V. says:

    Thank you, Dr. Wong. Doctor said it ws ok, but I am so fearful of another detachment, that I still worry. With COVID rampant in this State, not only do I worry about needing a follow up surgery b/c retina detaches again, but I am afraid of getting CV and detaching retina. It’s a bad time to have an RD.

  36. Joe K. says:

    Hello Dr. Wong,

    I had a PVD last week in my left eye and 3 days later had a large cob-web like floater with many strands and dust-like clumps. Two days after that, had an examination and laser surgery to seal a small horseshoe shaped tear in the retina at the 3’O’clock position. I have two questions. 1. I’m an avid cyclist (2-3hr. rides) and want to return to this activity after the first week of healing as advised by my doctor. Is it safe to return to vigorous cycling workouts after that time? 2. Can anything be done about the large cobweb floater that is very distracting – or do I have to just wait to see if it eventually resolves or floats out the way? Finally, I want to say that I already had a PVD in my right eye with no complications. I’m 63 years old.

    Thank you so much for all your excellent replies. This really helps the community.

    Warmest regards, Joe

    • Randall Wong, M.D. says:


      In my opinion, ok to resume cycling, but you must first the advice of your own doctor. This is just my opinion and what I would say to my patients. You are not my patient.

      Vitrectomy, or possibly laser, could help quite a bit.

      All the best, Randy

  37. Joe K. says:

    Thank you Dr. Wong,

    That is great to hear and agrees completely with my follow-up appt. today. My doctor also said vitrectomy is not recommended if you have 20/20 vision (except for the floaters). So I will defer for now.

    Best regards, Joe

  38. Hi I had laser treatment done to both my eyes (right for lattice patches and a retinal hole; left for lattice degeneration) I had the laser treatment done on my eyes and I would rest for 2 days and then I did my usual workout for 30 mins. Do you think there would any complications due to this? My doctor never mentioned anything about exercise so I assumed it was ok, but had a look on the internet and now I am a little scared. I am not experiencing any serious symptoms though.

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