Stress and the Retina: Understanding Central Serous Retinopathy
While your retina has the crucial role of enabling you to see, this photosensitive tissue layer is at risk for multiple health threats. When fluid builds up under or behind your retina, it is known as central serous retinopathy. Among its risk factors are stress and corticosteroid use. While this condition may resolve on its own, vision problems or loss can occur, making regular eye exams crucial. If treatment is needed, medications and lasers are effective, and lifestyle changes may help you prevent or improve CSR.
What is Central Serous Retinopathy?
Central serous retinopathy (CSR), also known as central serous chorioretinopathy (CSCR), affects about 6-10 out of 100,000 people, and it is more common in men. Typically affecting people between 20 and 50 years old, CSR usually develops in only one eye at a time, although both can be affected. Up to half of those who get CSR once will develop it again.
CSR occurs when the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) – a cell layer between the retina and choroid, a pigmented layer of tissue – fails to work correctly. Fluid can then leak behind and under the retina, which can lead to a minor detachment, thus resulting in vision problems or loss.
Central Serous Retinopathy Signs and Symptoms
In some cases, CSR may have no symptoms and have a negligible effect on your perceived vision. If symptoms develop, it will likely depend on the amount of fluid accumulation and the location of occurrence. Should fluid accumulate under the macula (the retina’s center), you may experience visual distortions and blurry vision. Blurriness is the most common symptom, often occurring in only one eye. During a thorough dilated ophthalmological examination, CSR development may be found in the other eye. Additional symptoms may include:
- A dark spot in the center of your vision
- Darker or dim vision
- White items appear dull or brown
- Objects seem smaller or further away than they are
- Straight lines look crooked or bent.
Central Serous Retinopathy Causes & Risk Factors
While this condition’s cause is unknown, stress may play a major role, as it makes your body release cortisol, which is a hormone that causes inflammation and fluid leakage. If you have high-stress levels or difficulty coping with stressful situations, your CSR risk may be greater. Your condition may also be caused or worsened by exposure to corticosteroids, medications, and products that treat inflammation, including:
- Skin creams
- Inhalers, such as for asthma
- Joint injections
- Nasal sprays
- Oral tablets
Anyone can develop CSR, but it’s associated with certain age groups and lifestyle factors, including:
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
- Heart disease or high blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Sleep problems
- Stimulants (coffee, tea, alcohol, etc.)
Central Serous Retinopathy Treatment
Central serous retinopathy often resolves itself on its own over a few weeks or months. But to ensure that vision problems aren’t permanent, your ophthalmologist may recommend monitoring the condition.
Should the fluid not drain on its own and vision changes don’t improve, your ophthalmologist may recommend such treatments as injectable medications and lasers. But even if successful, CSR may return in the same eye or the other one, making regular follow-up appointments necessary.
You may find certain lifestyle changes help to prevent or improve CSR. For instance, you may stop taking certain medications and reduce stress, such as with exercise. You may also find it helpful to:
- Sleep at least seven hours every night
- Limit the usage of caffeine, alcohol, and corticosteroids
- Practice stress management strategies.
Schedule a Central Serous Retinopathy Consultation In South Carolina
While central serous retinopathy often resolves itself, you may require ophthalmologic care and treatment. To schedule an appointment with a retinal specialist, contact Palmetto Retina Center today.