About the Condition
Central serous retinopathy is an eye condition which builds up fluid behind the retina, a thin sensitive tissue layer behind the eye responsible for converting light into neural signals that are sent the brain and helps you recognize images perceived by the eyes.
The fluid build-up affects the vision and may cause a partial detachment of the retina resulting in a sudden or gradual loss of vision to affected individuals.
This condition, also medically known as central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC), can correct itself (drain the fluid on its own) over time without the need for medical intervention. However, to increase the chances of a complete recovery and prevent the risk of permanent damage to your vision, it is better to seek medical advice and have yourself checked and diagnosed at the onset of changes in your vision.
Usually, central serous retinopathy is present in only one eye, although there are cases where the condition manifests in both. The initial symptom of central serous retinopathy is the blurring of vision in one eye, which can also be accompanied by the dimming of vision in that same eye.
CSC may also show the following symptoms:
- Your central vision may exhibit some darkness
- You may perceive straight lines as crooked
- You may have problems with depth perception, such as perceiving objects to be farther than they really are.
- You might see white objects having a brownish or greyish tint
These symptoms depend on the location of the fluid buildup. In some cases, there may be no change in your vision such as when the macula in your retina is not affected. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for seeing the fine details of an object, and if it is unaffected by CSC you may continue to see objects with detail.
Risk Factors and Causes
Possible causes and risk factors for developing central serous retinopathy include the following:
1. Age and Gender
Central serous retinopathy is very prevalent among men aged 30 to 60 years. This is unlike other eye diseases which usually strike late in your life. Although women can also develop CSC, men are more likely to exhibit the condition.
Stress is another major risk factor for CSC. Cortisol levels are heightened during stressful situations, which can cause eye inflammation and fluid leakage behind the retina. Several studies have been made that link high-stress levels with central serous retinopathy.
Taking corticosteroids and other steroid drugs increase the levels of cortisol in the body. This increases the risk of developing CSC.
The exact causes of CSC are still unknown, and it is important to stay healthy and lower the risks of developing it by being aware of the risk factors given above.
4. Having the condition in the past
Studies have shown that persons who have had CSC and have recovered from it are more likely to develop it again in the future. In fact, if CSC recurs, it may need more aggressive treatment. If you have previously recovered from CSC, it is recommended to meet with your eye doctor at least once a year to monitor your eye’s health.
Usually, there is no need for treatment since the fluid behind your retina will go away on its own in a few months. To ensure that the fluid is, in fact, draining away, you may consult with an ophthalmologist.
In cases where fluid build-up doesn’t drain on its own, these are the different types of treatment and CSC management options available:
1. Prescription Medication
Your eye doctor may prescribe you some medication that can help with CSC. One such drug is an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medicine. This helps to prevent new blood vessels in the eye from growing, which can often cause further problems with your vision.
It is usually recommended to avoid drugs containing steroids, such as corticosteroids, which raise cortisol levels. However, some serious complications could stem from the sudden stoppage of steroid therapy so make sure to consult with your eye doctor beforehand.
2. Photodynamic Therapy
This procedure primarily aims to stop the leaking from the fluid build-up behind the retina.
Photodynamic therapy is performed by injecting your arms with verteporfin, a drug specially designed to correct blood vessels in the eyes. To stop the leaking the verteporfin is activated by a cold laser that is focused on the leaking fluid build-up around the eyes. This procedure can also prevent leaks in the future.
3. Thermal Laser Treatment
Thermal laser treatment can also help stop the leak by sealing the tissue of the leaking fluid behind the retina. However, compared with photodynamic therapy, conventional thermal laser treatment procedure poses a greater risk of complications and side-effects such as scarring. So better discuss your options with your doctor first to ensure optimal treatment as well as your safety.
4. Lifestyle Changes
Some lifestyle changes you can do to help treat or prevent CSC include the following:
- Avoiding or reducing your caffeine intake. Caffeine raises cortisol levels in the body which have been linked to central serous retinopathy.
- Getting enough sleep. Research has shown that people with irregular sleep patterns and other sleep disorders are more likely to develop CSC. At least seven hours of sleep per day is recommended.
- Avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption. Increased alcohol consumption is considered one of the many risk factors for CSC.
- Managing stress levels. Experiencing stress raises cortisol levels in the body which increase the risk of developing SCR. Activities such as meditation and yoga can help manage your stress levels.
When to Schedule for a Check-up
Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away if you notice any changes in your vision. Do not put it off to some other day or wait for your next pre-scheduled appointment because some eye conditions may rapidly worsen and result in permanent loss of vision if you do not take them seriously.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend a watch-and-wait approach to treat your central serous retinopathy. During this time, it is important to know that you should be able to observe improvements within a few months. If the condition worsens or does not go away on its own over time, discuss with your doctor the different treatment options you can get like photodynamic therapy or laser treatment depending on what is most suitable and safest for you.
It is important to take note that even if you’ve recovered from CSC, the chances of developing it again is very high and will need much more aggressive treatment to recover. It is vital that you talk to your doctor regularly for maintenance and monitoring. If you plan to take medication containing steroids, determine first from your eye doctor if it is safe.
Remember the different risk factors stated previously and always maintain a healthy lifestyle so as to avoid the higher risks of developing central serous retinopathy and other eye conditions. Add activities such as yoga and meditation to your day to help manage your stress levels. Going to regular checkups and consultations with your eye doctor can help you be aware and prepared for possible risks of developing the condition.