What is the Retina?
The retina is the inner most tissue layer of the posterior portion of the eye. It is composed of several layers beginning from outer layer to the inner layer.
Retinal pigment epithelium
Photoreceptor (rods and cones)
External limiting membrane
Outer nuclear layer
Outer plexifrom layer
Inner nuclear layer
Inner plexifrom layer
Ganglion cell layer
Nerve fiber layer
Internal limiting membrane
You can think of the retina like the film of a camera. It collects the images that we se in our vision. The rods and the cones receive the image. The rods provide vision in low light and the ones provide our clear vision and color vision working in high lighting conditions. The nerve fibers gather together at the optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits the vision signals through to the back portion of the brain called the occipital lobes. This portion of the brain is called the vision center.
There are numerous diseases that can affect the retina and different portions of the retina. Macular degeneration affects the macula or the clear vision center of the retina. Diabetes can affect the entire retina. Retinal tears usually occur in the peripheral portion of the retina.
Lattice degeneration occurs in the peripheral part of the retina. Lattice degeneration gets its name from the appearance of the retinal degeneration having the look of lattice work on a house. It can have a variety of characteristics including some of the following:
Linear, oval, or round areas of retinal thinning
Variations in pigmentation
Linear or branching white lines
White and/or yellowish flecks
White patches which are linear, oval, or round
Atrophic small round holes, partial holes, or areas of thin retina
The lattice degeneration may be located in a small area of the retina or cover nearly the whole circumferential area of the retina.
Occurrence and Risk Factors
Lattice degeneration may occur in as much as 8 % of the population in America. There are no known risk factors for developing lattice degeneration.
Is Lattice Degeneration Dangerous?
Lattice in its self does not cause any symptoms. People with lattice degeneration are at a higher risk of developing retinal tears and/or retinal detachments. Approximately 25 to 30% of people who develop a retinal detachment without a history of prior ocular surgery have lattice degeneration.
Diagnosis of Lattice Degeneration
Lattice degeneration is diagnosed during a thorough complete dilated eye exam with scleral depression and/or contact lens examination of the retina.
Treatment Lattice Degeneration
In patients with routine lattice degeneration without any retinal holes or tears, yearly dilated eye exams are all that is necessary. If a person has any symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment such as floaters or flashing lights in their vision they should call their eye doctor’s office immediately. If there are round retinal holes, retinal tears, or other significant risk factors such as high myopia, other than repairing the tears prophylactic laser treat or cryotherapy may indicated. This is to reduce the risk of vision loss from the patient developing a retinal detachment.
Patients with lattice degeneration need be followed closely to monitor their retina as they are at a higher risk of developing a retinal detachment. If a person develops any new symptoms such as flashes of lights or floaters like veils, cobwebs, dots, bugs, flies, curtains, or wiggly lines you should see your eye doctor as soon as possible.