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Candidate risk factors for retinal detachment (RD) include heavy lifting. To explore further this relationship, a population-based register study was carried out in a Danish working population.This study enrolled a dynamic cohort of all 20–59 year-old men in Denmark followed through the Danish Occupational Hospitalisation Register from 1995 to 2010 for rhegmatogenous RD as principal diagnosis. Four main occupational categories were identified according to their potential for heavy lifting: heavy lifters, manual workers unlikely to be heavy lifters, other manual workers, and non-manual workers unlikely to be heavy lifters. We compared the age-standardised rate of RD for heavy lifters with that recorded by the other three occupational categories. We estimated rate ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CIs) by fitting a Poisson regression model adjusted for calendar period and age group.Non-manual workers performing occupational activities unlikely to be associated with heavy lifting experienced the highest age-standardised rate of RD (18.0 cases/100,000 person-years). The RR for workers in jobs expected to involve a high frequency of heavy lifting compared to manual workers whose occupation was unlikely to be associated with heavy lifting was 0.91 (95%CI, 0.73–1.14); in comparison with other manual workers, the RR was 0.93 (95%CI, 0.78–1.11). The RR compared to non-manual workers in occupations unlikely to involve heavy lifting was 0.51 (95%CI, 0.43–0.60).The findings of this population-based register study do not support an association of occupational heavy lifting with RD. Further studies should use more specific measures of exposure and consider relevant confounders.