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Sickle Cell Retinopathy
Sickle cell disease is an inherited problem with red blood cells. Instead of the normal doghnut shape, reb blood cells in people with sickle cell may become deformed - shaped like a sickle used to cut wheat. These sickle cells do not travel well through blood vessels and cause clogging and occlusion. In the retina this may lead to several types of problems. If the central retinal artery closes, it could cause severe loss of vision. This is rare. The more frequently seen problem is when the vascular occlusion leads to formation of areas in the retina that are not receiving enough blood (ischemia). These ischemic areas then lead to formation of new abnormal blood vessels (neovascularization). These new blood vessels may bleed and cause loss of vision. At times, these neovascular tissues may contract and cause tractional retinal detachment.

In most cases, if caught early, sickle retinopathy can be treated in the office with laser treatment. However, if large amount of bleeding or retinal detachment develops surgical intervention with vitrectomy may be needed. It is important for people with sickle diseases to have an annual check of their retinae.
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