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Lattice degeneration is a disease which affects the retina of the eye, causing the retina to atrophy and become thinner. Although this is not usually a progressive disease, in rare cases lattice degeneration may lead to retinal detachment and temporary or permanent loss of vision. In the United States, up to 10% of the population has this disease. Of those, between 30% and 50% are affected in both eyes. This eye disease is associated with myopia, and the two conditions often appear together.
Although multiple theories have been suggested about the cause of this disease, the factors which lead to lattice eye degeneration remain unknown. Diseased eyes have vascular deficiencies, meaning the network of vessels which supplies blood to the retina is underdeveloped. It is not known whether this vascular deficiency is a cause or a symptom of lattice eye degeneration.
Lattice degeneration does not generally present any easily recognizable symptoms. A person with this condition may have blurred distance vision; however this is most often caused by myopia. Often, when symptoms are noticed they are symptoms of a complication rather than of the disease itself.
The most common complication of lattice degeneration is retinal detachment; however this is itself a rare complication. Retinal detachment occurs in less than 1% of people with lattice eye degeneration. When retinal detachment occurs, the patient is likely to experience floaters and white flashes in their field of vision. Floaters are tiny black spots which float in the field of vision. If these symptoms suddenly appear with no warning, they may indicate retinal detachment, and treatment from a doctor or ophthalmologist should be sought.
People with lattice degeneration do not generally require any treatment, as the disease does not affect vision, and complications are rare. In certain circumstances, prophylactic treatment may be needed to prevent complications. For example, if someone with lattice eye detachment has a detached retina in one eye, his or her other eye may be treated to prevent detachment. The detached retina may also be treated to prevent further damage.
Laser photocoagulation of retinal tears is the most common prophylactic treatment used for lattice eye degeneration. This therapy is used both to prevent and to treat retinal detachment. In laser photocoagulation, a laser is directed at the retina of the eye. The laser is used to cauterize tiny vessels in the retina to repair holes and reduce the chances of detachment occurring.
Whether you have been diagnosed with lattice degeneration or not, it is important to know the symptoms of retinal detachment because immediate treatment is vital. If you ever see strange floaters and flashes that do not go away, seek treatment from an eye care professional as surgery is required to correct a detached retina.