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Learning About Retinoschisis

What is retinoschisis?

Retinoschisis (say "ret-uh-NAW-skuh-sus") is a problem with a part of the eye called the retina. The retina is a thin nerve membrane at the back of the eye. It sends signals to your brain about what the eye sees. The retina has different layers. When you have retinoschisis, the layers have separated. Fluid may collect between the layers, forming small cysts. These changes in the retina may affect your vision, but they don't cause problems for most people.

There are two types of retinoschisis. The more common type develops as you age. It often doesn't cause any symptoms. The other type is passed down in families through genes. It affects children, mostly boys. This type is rare. It may cause vision problems that get worse over time.

What happens when you have it?

Many people who have retinoschisis won't have any symptoms. But some people will notice a change in their vision. It may make things in front of you look blurry or dim. Or you may have trouble seeing things from the side of your eye.

People with this condition are at higher risk of having their retina detach, or separate, from the back of the eye. This rarely happens, but a detached retina can cause serious vision problems.

There is no treatment for retinoschisis. But you will need to have eye exams regularly with an ophthalmologist. This is a medical doctor who treats eye and vision problems. The doctor will check to make sure that you don't have any other problems, such as a detached retina. You may be referred to an eye doctor who is a retina specialist.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your vision changes.
  • You see new flashes or floaters.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

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