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Retinal Detachment Risk due to Gravel Riding

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Retinal Detachment Risk due to Gravel Riding

Old 05-30-22, 02:37 PM
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Two time detached

Howdy, 56 year old mountain biker. Race endurance stuff finish 20 out of 30, stubborn more than fast. Xc no jumps, no major crashs 30 years of riding.Lots of gravel. 5.5 was my prescription. 4 years r ago right eye detached. Did the buckle... About a year later cataract. I remember my wife was convinced that Mt biking was the cause. I brought her in so she could hear from my doctor ( Baskin Palmer Dr smiddy, Miami FL). That i should just live my life and that my right eye was more stronger than the left. Surgery was July and by October i was riding and racing by December.

Over the next 4 years the left was full of floaters. March this year i saw flashes. 4 trips to weld the tears, so what, detached left retina April 14.

​​​​​​Doctor cleared me to resume full exercis last week and now that both have the buckle, I'm inclined to say screw it and not think about it, and go back, but i would love to find a cycling retina specialist for their opinion. Or understand what happens after buckle 20 30 years down the road. Sounds like one of us needs to find a riding retina doctor and we all chip in for the group consult...

John VossMiami FL
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Old 05-30-22, 02:38 PM
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Two time detached

Howdy, 56 year old mountain biker. Race endurance stuff finish 20 out of 30, stubborn more than fast. Xc no jumps, no major crashs 30 years of riding.Lots of gravel. 5.5 was my prescription. 4 years r ago right eye detached. Did the buckle... About a year later cataract. I remember my wife was convinced that Mt biking was the cause. I brought her in so she could hear from my doctor ( Baskin Palmer Dr smiddy, Miami FL). That i should just live my life and that my right eye was more stronger than the left. Surgery was July and by October i was riding and racing by December.

Over the next 4 years the left was full of floaters. March this year i saw flashes. 4 trips to weld the tears, so what, detached left retina April 14.

​​​​​​Doctor cleared me to resume full exercis last week and now that both have the buckle, I'm inclined to say screw it and not think about it, and go back, but i would love to find a cycling retina specialist for their opinion. Or understand what happens after buckle 20 30 years down the road. Sounds like one of us needs to find a riding retina doctor and we all chip in for the group consult...

John VossMiami FL
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Old 05-30-22, 02:39 PM
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Oh and how do I know when somebody posts here. ?
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Old 06-02-22, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jvossman
Oh and how do I know when somebody posts here. ?
hit the Subscribe button
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Old 06-03-22, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
hit the Subscribe button
Ty. Going to need to check filter/spam as i didn't get notified with your post. But thank you!!!
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Old 06-06-22, 09:56 PM
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Since this thread is still alive I will share what I know. I have compound eye issues. 23 diopter recommended prescription but anything over 19 makes me see double so I live under corrected: 20/100. Pre-emptive buckles done 6 years ago because there is so much tearing of the retina because my eyes have elongated to 38mm (normal is 25mm). There is also Glaucoma present. Drops for that, more aggressive interventions planned. I cannot drive so I ride a bike. Everywhere. Everyday. Rain or shine. My wife is blind so we take a tandem to commute to her worksite because the first bus of the day is still too late to get her in on time. If I enjoyed mountain biking I would do it! My retina doctor would be fine with that. I started playing French Horn at 50 years of age but stopped when the buckles were put in. The doc who did the buckles had no comment on the Brass Playing. The retina specialist was like, Dude, life is too short. Play if you want to play. A major blow to the eye is one thing, the low amplitude, high frequency vibration of road cycling is another, and the bouncing of singletrack still another. Assuming a full suspension downhill type bike, I doubt that what gets through should be a concern for buckled eyes. I really would risk it. Even a retina doc that rides is unlikely to really know the answer to the questions being asked in this thread. Most people with our eyes are legally blind and not doing much riding, if any at all. There is no data set of outcomes for what we want to know. <making Guinea Pig type noises as I run away>
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Old 06-09-22, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
Since this thread is still alive I will share what I know. I have compound eye issues. 23 diopter recommended prescription but anything over 19 makes me see double so I live under corrected: 20/100. Pre-emptive buckles done 6 years ago because there is so much tearing of the retina because my eyes have elongated to 38mm (normal is 25mm). There is also Glaucoma present. Drops for that, more aggressive interventions planned. I cannot drive so I ride a bike. Everywhere. Everyday. Rain or shine. My wife is blind so we take a tandem to commute to her worksite because the first bus of the day is still too late to get her in on time. If I enjoyed mountain biking I would do it! My retina doctor would be fine with that. I started playing French Horn at 50 years of age but stopped when the buckles were put in. The doc who did the buckles had no comment on the Brass Playing. The retina specialist was like, Dude, life is too short. Play if you want to play. A major blow to the eye is one thing, the low amplitude, high frequency vibration of road cycling is another, and the bouncing of singletrack still another. Assuming a full suspension downhill type bike, I doubt that what gets through should be a concern for buckled eyes. I really would risk it. Even a retina doc that rides is unlikely to really know the answer to the questions being asked in this thread. Most people with our eyes are legally blind and not doing much riding, if any at all. There is no data set of outcomes for what we want to know. <making Guinea Pig type noises as I run away>

Thanks for sharing. God bless you and your wife.
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Old 06-13-22, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by richard.susanto
Thanks for all the feedback here. I was actually hoping that there's a 40+ yo. Retina Specialist in this forum who is also a gravel grinder and can provide perspective. But, I'm not expecting much since it's such a specific case.

I ride the Canyon Grail, with a suspension seat post and 40mm tires. In addition, the handlebar (Canyon calls it Hoverbar) also helps with softening the overall vibration felt when riding on really rough road. Still, I can feel the constant vibration all over my body when riding in a long distance.

Thanks again, everyone.
In 2020 I was 56-years old. Iíd been riding a hardtail MTB up a 4.3 (7km) fire road and back down. I reached about 30-35mph for much of the descent.
At some point (letís call it Day 0) I rode my carbon CX bike w/35mm tires up the fire road and back down. I did experience a lot of vibration in my vision on the way down. The next day (Day 1) I experienced some large swaths of fluid black patches, sort of as if looking at a lava lamp with black fluid inside, as well as some lightning flashes. On Day 2 I was diagnosed with a detached retina and had emergency retina reattachment surgery that day. No one can prove that riding a rigid-forked gravel bike on a bumpy fire trail was the cause, but I tend to believe it was the last straw in my middle-aged body.

Last edited by FML123; 07-05-22 at 06:47 AM. Reason: Deleting irrelevant detail
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Old 06-13-22, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by FML123
In 2020 I was 56-years old, living in Frankfurt, Germany. Iíd been riding a hardtail MTB up a 5mi fire road and back down. I reached about 30-35mph for much of the descent.
At some point (letís call it Day 0) I rode my carbon CX bike w/35mm tires up the fire road and back down. I did experience a lot of vibration in my vision on the way down. The next day (Day 1) I experienced some large swaths of fluid black patches, sort of as if looking at a lava lamp with black fluid inside. On Day 2 I was diagnosed with a detached retina and had emergency retina reattachment surgery that day. No one can prove that riding a rigid gravel bike on a bumpy fire trail was the cause, but I tend to believe it was the last straw in my middle-aged body.
Most likely right in this case.7
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Old 06-13-22, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by richard.susanto
Hey guys, thanks for the feedback.

have actually spoken with my Retinal Surgeon. She's not really familiar with the type of vibration experienced by riding on rough gravel road, but had made a recommendation that I play it extra safe, which is to avoid the activity due to the risk of having a PVD in the middle of a race. The thought behind her recommendation is when a PVD happens, it's critical to have the eye examined by a Retina Specialist right away to ensure that there is no retinal detachment.

I agree with everyone. Since the risk is involving eyesight, I'd rather play it safe and avoid joining any gravel grinding race in the near future (at least until the PVD completes and my surgeon gives me a green light to race).

Thanks,
Richard
After my retinal detachment, (one of the worst the surgeon had seen) Imountain biked doing drops, bouncing over logs and boulders and generally rattling myself like crazy for years with zero Ill effects. However I was warned by my surgeon to refrain for a year from such activity until he saw me again and gave me the green light. Gravel riding, which I do on occasion, is not even close to sustaining the impacts of mtb unless you fall off the bike on your face.

Of course you should do what is right for you and the amount of risk you can tolerate.
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Old 06-13-22, 09:43 PM
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Mountain bikes usually have suspension.
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Old 06-21-22, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
Mountain bikes usually have suspension.
However you need to keep in mind that their suspension is not a panacea that guarantees you a magic carpet ride, especially when going over logs and down boulder fields. I take it you donít mountain bike.
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Old 06-21-22, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
However you need to keep in mind that their suspension is not a panacea that guarantees you a magic carpet ride, especially when going over logs and down boulder fields. I take it you don’t mountain bike.
I do (living in Santa Cruz, it is a residency requirement), but I've neglected it for gravel recently. I do sometimes worry that the lack of suspension might be beating on me a bit too much, sometimes, in terms of low-level but nearly continuous vibrations, vs. the more occasional hard jolts one gets mountain biking.

There is a trail here called "magic carpet" BTW.
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Old 06-22-22, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I do (living in Santa Cruz, it is a residency requirement), but I've neglected it for gravel recently. I do sometimes worry that the lack of suspension might be beating on me a bit too much, sometimes, in terms of low-level but nearly continuous vibrations, vs. the more occasional hard jolts one gets mountain biking.

There is a trail here called "magic carpet" BTW.
I used to live in Santa Cruz in my youth. My dad still has his house on 16th Ave near the ocean. I have found that on my endurance bike, which is primarily road but I do ride gravel once a week, that wider tires with lower pressures (I run tubeless so no pinch flats) works wonders on gravel for comfort. When I do hit single-track, it is with a full suspension mountain bike - not really suitable for the street - too heavy and too much rolling resistance. Good luck and hello to my old stomping grounds. (Not familiar with the magic carpet, but haven’t lived there in decades.)
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Old 06-22-22, 10:39 AM
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It is one of the unsanctioned UCSC trails. I ride the gravel bike primarily on the less illegal trails there and in Wilder Ranch (either on 38mm or 42/48mm RH tires).
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Old 04-19-24, 01:40 AM
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Detachment and vitrectomy seemingly from cycling

41 yo Road cyclist currently recovering from vitrectomy surgery, with a gas bubble injected in my eye (can't fly for months!). The symptom that took me to hospital a couple of weeks back was the sudden appearance of one, tiny black floater in my peripheral vision, the day after a 40-mile ride on gravel and rough, rocky track on my alloy road bike (with 26mm tyres at about 90 psi). Didn't think much of the floater but followed NHS guidance and was sent to local eye hospital where consultant ophthalmologist immediately referred me for emergency surgery for a torn and partially detached retina, complicated by vitreous behind it (meaning no laser surgery was possible). The bike ride was, as you can imagine, very bumpy on my inappropriate bike, with constant vibration (maybe somewhat dampened by good quality carbon fork, handlebar and seatpost) but still would not have imagined this result! Nearly lost the sight in my right eye! The gas is slowly being reabsorbed but right now still only about 50% vision in that eye. Plus soreness from the incisions and stitches in the eyeball. In the interests of transparency, and because the doctors seemed reluctant to agree on the cause: I also do martial arts, but I hadn't sparred in months when the floater appeared, and hadn't taken a heavy blow to the head for at least 1-2 years. But maybe that was a long term contributor, and the ride just finished the tearing - who knows. Certainly I should be too young for it to just be vitreous shrink / change, and prior to this I always had perfect vision. My recommendation, not that any of you would need it, is: ride an appropriate bike and tyres for the terrain!
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Old 04-19-24, 08:37 PM
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If you are prone to retinal detachment, it will detach on its own with very little prompting - or jostling. I know, I had a 80% detachment in my left eye. And it just happened on its own in the middle of the week while I was at a training with mostly sitting. I had my eye ‘laserd’ back together but it took 10 years for my eye to almost regain somewhat normal vision. During eye exams, looking at the charts, the letters tend to dance and while they go into and out of focus. When looking at a straight line - either vertical or horizontal, there was always a very noticeable hump in the middle of the line. With time it has improved dramatically.

One year post surgery, I was back to mountain biking, doing drops, bumping over logs and generally bumping along with the blessings of my surgeon. I kept that up for three years before transitioning back to road riding.

I too had the gas bubble and it was amusing watching it sloshing around while it slowly started to down - think of water in a front loading washing machine slowly disappearing. The most interesting aspect of the whole thing is learning that all of us actually see everything upside down, but our brains reverse the image making it right-side up. You only need a detached retina to get this ‘wonderful’ insight. (No drugs required)
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