At Palmetto Retina Center, we provide care for a full range of retinal and ocular conditions. Learn more about some of the additional diseases that we treat.
Lattice degeneration is a condition in which the peripheral retina (the part of the retina that’s outside of the macula) begins to diminish and weaken. As the peripheral tissue weakens, the retina can become more susceptible to retinal tears or detachments. However, lattice degeneration itself does not produce any symptoms and is typically only discovered during a dilated eye exam using fundus photography.
Although it’s a somewhat common condition, the exact cause of lattice degeneration is not yet fully understood. It is commonly associated with myopia (nearsightedness). Once diagnosed, patients need to have regular eye exams to monitor the health of their retina. In most cases, no treatment is needed beyond regular monitoring.
While there is an increased risk of developing retinal tears or detachments, this rarely happens. However, patients with lattice degeneration should report immediately if they experience the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- The presence of flashes and floaters
- Darkened vision
Coats disease is a rare progressive retinal disorder that is defined by the development of abnormal blood capillaries in the retina. Unlike regular retinal blood vessels, these abnormal capillaries are exceedingly fragile and break easily. When they break, they leak fluids and blood into the retina and cause swelling. As the disease progresses, it can lead to total retinal detachment, glaucoma, and severe vision loss.
Coats disease typically presents itself in children under the age of 10. It usually occurs in only one eye but can affect both. Symptoms during the earliest stages of Coats disease may be mild. Some common symptoms include:
- Crossed eyes
- Poor vision
- Poor depth perception
- White discoloration in the pupil
- Eye inflammation
Treatment options for Coats disease include laser surgery or cryotherapy, which can help seal off the leaking blood vessels. In cases of Coats disease with a detached retina, vitrectomy surgery may be performed to replace the vitreous gel inside the eye with silicone oil or a gas bubble.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Retinitis
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis is a viral infection of the retina that is caused by cytomegalovirus, which is a common type of herpes virus. The virus is typically transmitted by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is infected. For people with healthy immune systems, CMV generally doesn’t cause any issues or symptoms. However, for people who have weakened immune systems, such as patients with HIV/AIDs, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, older adults, pregnant women, and newborn babies, CMV can cause severe health complications.
One of these complications is CMV retinitis, which is characterized by retinal inflammation. If left untreated, CMV retinitis can lead to permanent blindness by damaging the optic nerve and retina. Patients with immunodeficiencies should be on alert if they experience:
- Blurry vision
- The presence of floaters
- Blind spots
CMV retinitis is often treated using a medication known as ganciclovir, which fights against the CMV virus by inhibiting its ability to replicate its DNA. Ganciclovir is first administered intravenously to get control of CMV retinitis. Once under control, patients can then switch to an oral medication regimen as prescribed by their doctor. Alternatively, there is also a new therapy that uses a small implant surgically placed inside the eye. The implant slowly releases ganciclovir into the eye for up to 8 months.
Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome (OHS)
Ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (OHS) is an eye condition that is caused by the fungal infection histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis originates in the lungs and is caused by exposure to Histoplasma capsulatum, which is a fungus found in soil that contains bat guano and/or bird droppings. In some cases, the infection travels up from the lungs into the eyes, causing tiny scars to form on the retina. This may not cause any symptoms at first but can eventually lead to a few visual disturbances, such as:
- Blurry vision
- Blind spots
- Visual distortions (straight lines appearing curvy, crooked, or wavy)
While the scars themselves are usually harmless, they can sometimes trigger the process of neovascularization, in which abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and eventually lead to vision loss.
OHS is generally only treated when neovascularization occurs. The primary treatment options for OHS are anti-VEGF eye injections, which help to halt the growth of abnormal blood vessels, and laser photocoagulation, which helps seal them. Although OHS is rare, anyone who has histoplasmosis or has been exposed to Histoplasma capsulatum should keep a close eye on any vision changes that they experience.
Ocular toxoplasmosis is a type of posterior uveitis that is caused by a parasite called toxoplasm a gondii. This single-celled parasite is commonly transmitted through undercooked meat, infected cat litter, or through the placenta from mother to infant. The disease can be particularly devastating for newborns, which is why it is strongly recommended that women not consume undercooked meat or handle cat litter during pregnancy.
Ocular toxoplasmosis attacks the retina and can cause:
- Inflammation of the vitreous
- Retinchoroidal scarring
- Increased hypertension in the eyes
- Retinal vasculitis (swelling of the retinal blood vessels)
In some cases, it can also cause retinal detachment, branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO), and other complications. Patients with immunodeficiencies are more likely to experience serious symptoms and complications.
Ocular toxoplasmosis is commonly treated using anti-parasitic medications, steroids, or antibiotics. In some cases, laser photocoagulation or cryotherapy may also be recommended.
Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR)
Central serous retinopathy (CSR) occurs when fluid builds up underneath the retina. If fluid accumulation occurs under the central macular area, it can cause visual distortions and blurry vision. Although the cause of CSR is not fully understood, it is often associated with stress.
This condition is generally temporary and goes away on its own. In most cases of CSR, treatment is not necessary. However, if retinal swelling continues to persist or causes retinal degeneration, laser surgery may be recommended.