What is Lattice Degeneration?
Lattice degeneration is an eye condition that involves irregular thinning of the retina.
People with lattice degeneration are at greater risk for:
- Retinal tears
- Retinal holes
- Retinal breaks
Conditions associated with lattice degeneration can lead to retinal detachment, which can cause vision loss. That’s why people with lattice degeneration need to get routine eye exams.
There’s no prevention or cure for lattice degeneration, but treatment can reduce the risk of vision-threatening complications like retinal detachment.
How Common is Lattice Degeneration?
Lattice degeneration is common, affecting 6% to 8% of the population.1,2 However, past studies suggest the prevalence has been as high as 10%.3-5
This type of peripheral retinal degeneration typically affects both eyes but can occur in only one.
Symptoms of Lattice Degeneration
Lattice degeneration doesn’t cause symptoms. The only way to know you have it is to see an eye doctor for a dilated fundus examination.
If a retinal tear or detachment occurs, you may experience these symptoms:
- Blurry vision or other changes in vision
- The appearance of new eye floaters
- Flashing lights
- A shadowy curtain blocking your peripheral vision
See an ophthalmologist or retina specialist immediately if you have symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment. Timely treatment can save your vision.
What Causes Lattice Degeneration?
Healthcare professionals don’t fully understand the cause of lattice degeneration. There’s not enough conclusive evidence to suggest that lattice degeneration is inherited. However, it’s possible to find clusters of family members with the condition.
Lattice degeneration is more common in people with:
According to one study, lattice degeneration occurs in 33% of people with myopia.7 This is compared to a 6% to 10% prevalence of lattice degeneration in the general population.
It can also occur in those with the following conditions:
- Stickler syndrome. People with this genetic disorder can experience early-onset retinal detachment.
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This genetic condition increases the risk of lattice degeneration and retinal detachment.
- Marfan syndrome. People with this connective tissue disease have an increased risk of lattice degeneration and retinal detachment.
How is Lattice Degeneration Diagnosed?
An ophthalmologic examination is necessary for the diagnosis of lattice degeneration.
Your ophthalmologist will review your medical history and perform a dilated fundus examination. To perform this eye exam:
- The eye doctor will administer dilating eye drops to widen your pupil. This allows them to examine your retina carefully.
- They use a headlight and a special lens to look for signs of retinal thinning.
- Depending on the initial discoveries, the doctor may apply some pressure around the eye. This process is called scleral depression.
- The eye drops will cause your pupils to remain dilated for several hours. During this time, you may have blurry vision and increased sensitivity to light.
No imaging tests are required for diagnosis. However, wide-angle photographs of the retinas can help with managing the condition.
How is Lattice Degeneration Treated?
The vast majority of people with lattice degeneration don’t require treatment. However, routine eye exams will assist with managing the condition should it worsen.
In rare cases, an eye doctor may recommend preventive treatment to strengthen weak areas of retinal tissue. The goal is to reduce the risk of a retinal tear or detachment.
Treatment options include:
This treatment involves using a medical laser to burn areas of abnormal thinning. The laser causes scar tissue to form, which repairs the retina.
Like laser therapy, cryotherapy heals the retina by creating scar tissue. The main difference is this treatment uses a freezing probe instead of a laser.
Potential Complications of Lattice Degeneration
This condition doesn’t always lead to a retinal detachment. However, in rhegmatogenous retinal detachments (RRD), the prevalence of lattice degeneration was 20% to 30%.2, 3
Without proper care for lattice degeneration, there is a risk of retinal tear or detachment. If that occurs, treatment is possible. However, it should be immediate.
Untreated retinal detachment can result in permanent vision loss.
Lattice degeneration is minimally progressive. You may never develop a retinal tear or detachment if you have it.
However, it’s important to see your eye doctor and undergo regular dilated fundus exams to monitor the condition.
Lattice degeneration is a common eye condition. It involves abnormal thinning of the peripheral retina and usually affects both eyes. About 6% to 10% of the population has lattice degeneration, but the prevalence is higher in people with myopia (nearsightedness).
By itself, lattice degeneration doesn’t cause vision problems. However, it increases the risk of retinal tears, breaks, and holes. These conditions can lead to retinal detachment, which can cause vision loss.
There are no symptoms of lattice degeneration, but your ophthalmologist can detect it with a dilated eye exam. Most people don’t require treatment, but regular eye exams are necessary to monitor the condition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does lattice degeneration always require treatment?
Fortunately, lattice degeneration isn’t highly progressive. If you maintain regular visits to the eye clinic and undergo dilated fundus examinations, you shouldn’t need any treatment.
Treatment will be necessary in more severe cases where a retinal tear or detachment occurs.
Is lattice degeneration a disability?
Lattice degeneration isn’t a disability. In most cases, it doesn't require any treatment.
In rare cases, it can lead to a retinal tear or detachment.
If you experience a retinal detachment and don’t seek immediate care, you risk permanent vision loss.
Does lattice degeneration get worse with age?
Lattice degeneration is a minimally progressive condition. This means that it can worsen over time, although slowly.
If you maintain regular visits to the eye clinic, you can ensure proper monitoring of the condition. This minimizes the risk of serious eye-related complications.
Can lattice degeneration be cured?
No. However, your ophthalmologist may consider a preventive surgical approach to strengthen specific areas of the peripheral retina.
Can stress cause retinal detachment?
No. Other factors like age or lattice degeneration increase the risk of retinal detachment.
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