Due to the sickling of red blood cells, there is damage done to the blood vessels in the tissues at the back of the eye called the retina and the choroid. The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that brings images into focus, causing sight to be clear and vision stable.
The choroid is the middle layer of tissue in the wall of the eye which is almost entirely made up of blood vessels; these blood vessels are responsible for the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the outer part of the retina, it keeps the retina functioning properly and normally and in good shape and health, and without it, the retina experiences irrecoverable damage and permanent loss of sight or vision.
Photo Credit: The Lancet
Retinopathy caused by sickle cell disease can be a complication that goes undetected for years until it suddenly causes loss of vision in patients. Sickle cell retinopathy is an ocular manifestation of the spectrum of sickle cell disease. Ages nine (9) – ten (10) are advised to be taken for an eye examination for early detection and treatment of retinopathy.
Photo Credit: Paradigmhealthcare
The commonness of sickle cell retinopathy in hemoglobin SC is 43% and in hemoglobin, SS is 14% by the age of twenty and above (20.5). It is diagnosed by the imaging and testing of eye abnormalities using the process of spectral domain-optical coherence tomography angiography. Hydroxycarbamide is well effective and efficient in the prevention of retinopathy in children with sickle cell disease.
Photo Credit: Philadelphia Inquirer
Laser therapy is an adopted treatment in retinopathy found amongst sickle cell patients. Symptoms of sickle cell retinopathy include eye pain, redness of eye, decrease in vision, loss of peripheral vision, blurry vision, and dark shadows. In worst cases, the retina may come out of place causing permanent blindness, and also it happens suddenly.
Photo Credit: Philip Lee Miller
Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections into the eye is a treatment of sickle cell retinopathy. There are also surgical procedures that help in the treatment of sickle cell retinopathy, which also requires the use of anesthesia during the process.
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